Stress is a common issue for people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, it’s also something that people often take far too lightly and think that it’s no big deal to constantly be under the gun. But over time, too much stress leads to a variety of health problems.
In this day and age, working overtime and letting work-life balance slip is common among the working class, who are trying to gain an upper-hand in today’s competitive job market. In fact, a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows that 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful and 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. What’s more, a poll conducted by the Marlin Company and the American Institute of Stress found that 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.
If you’ve been leading a stressful life, it doesn’t need to stay that way. Here’s how you can get a better idea of your biggest stressors and then learn how to deal with them.
To reduce your stress, you must know what’s causing it in the first place. One of the more traditional and effective ways of doing this is going through a stressful life events list like the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory – a tool that lists different stressful life events and assigns a point value to each. The number of points you score can help determine how much stress you’re under and where you need to make changes.
You may look for another stress inventory or create one of your own to better fit your life. After all, the same events don’t necessarily affect people the same way. What’s most important is that you know the reasons behind your stress. If you feel like your stress is mainly work-related, you may consider using the AIS Workplace Stress Survey, which asks specific questions surrounding your work life.
Once you know your stressors, it’s time to separate what you can change from what you need to learn to deal with more effectively. If you can’t stand where you live, that’s obviously something you have the ability to change. The same goes for if it’s your work or your boss causing you stress. You have the ability to transition into a new career. If it’s the loss of a loved one that is causing you stress, you can’t change that, but you can learn how to move past it so that it doesn’t bring you down in all the areas of your life.
You can change most circumstances in your life if you’re willing to do so. It’s all a matter of whether you think it’s best to make a change or learn how to adapt so that you don’t feel as stressed from certain situations.
Two of the most effective techniques for dealing with stress are meditation and deep breathing exercises. They only take a couple minutes and can help you calm down quite a bit.
With meditation, you simply need to go somewhere quiet, get in a comfortable position and focus on clearing your mind of any thoughts that come your way. For deep breathing, all you need to do is take long breaths in and out, focusing on your exhales, in particular. Make sure you’re breathing from your diaphragm as you do this. You can also do meditation and deep breathing exercises together.
Another good option when you’re dealing with quite a bit of stress is to take a break and get some physical activity. This could be a 10-minute walk (fresh air also helps you relax) or a few stretches. Stress often makes your body get tense, so physical activity will help you loosen up.
Sticking to a workout routine is also important to keep your stress levels down. Exercising allows you to get rid of any negative energy you’re dealing with and it will benefit your body. After a long, busy day, a vigorous workout is a fantastic way to unwind. Even if you don’t have much time, even a short workout can help.
There’s no reason for stress to be a constant in your life or career. You’ll be far happier and healthier if you keep your stress levels to a minimum. First, see why you get stressed and if there are any life changes you can make to avoid stressors. For the stressors you can’t avoid, find your preferred stress-busting techniques, whether that’s meditation, deep breathing, exercise or all of the above.
Lewis Robinson is a former CEO with experience starting and running several small software companies. He currently lives in Pocatello, ID, where he consults with small/medium businesses and start-ups all around the Mountain West. You can reach him through LinkedIn.