According to research conducted by American Psychological Association about stress at work, two in five employees experience stress during their typical workday. In other words, almost half of the employed population is stressed every day. This number is huge and concerning.
The same study shows that less than six in ten employees report to have resources to manage work stress. But knowing how to face stressful situations without feeling overwhelmed is extremely important, not just for your workplace success, but for your physical and mental health. Untreated chronic stress can cause insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, all the way to serious conditions such as depression, heart disease and obesity.
So, here are 5 helpful and research-backed up techniques that can help you reduce stress and save your health:
1. Give yourself permission to step away from the stressor
That’s right. Sometimes we feel obligated to feel stressed, because somewhere deep down, we believe that we’re controlling the situation to some extent by feeling stressed. There is almost unconscious fear that if we let it go, everything will fall apart. Because of this, we clench to the stressful situation in hope that we’ll somehow fix it if we stress enough about it. But we won’t. And if you give yourself permission to step away from the thing that’s causing you stress, and let yourself do something else, there’s a high chance you’ll get the new perspective and solve the problem more efficiently after some time. Even if you don’t, at least you’ll get rid of some portion of that stress. This doesn’t mean to run away from all stressful situations; it just means that you should let yourself step away from it for a little while, and take care of yourself, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.
Yeah, this is a classic one. But it really works! Research shows that daily exercise significantly reduces stress experienced during the day. Working out clears your mind and strengthens not just your body, but your abilities to cope with stressful situations too.
3. Laugh it off
Did you know that neuroscience discovered that, when you fake a smile, it activates the same parts of your brain that light up when you’re smiling for real. In other words, just a simple facial expression of smiling can, after a while, trick your brain into feeling better. The real smile is always the best solution, of course, but research suggest that, to some degree, you can fake it ’til you make it. So, try to forget about your grumpy boss and remember that funny cat from that YouTube video. It’ll elicit smile on your face, and you can start from there.
4. Speak with someone about your concerns
Social support matters. When you talk to someone you trust, it really takes off the burden off of your chest. Talk about your distress, your feelings and your concerns, and be open to advice. Even if you don’t end up with the solution, just speaking it out helps alleviate the pressure.
Maybe you heard it before, but mindfulness and meditation really increase the quality of your life. Practicing it daily leads to getting to know yourself better, and with that, to start being honest with yourself about your feelings. From there, you can recognize how exactly you’re feeling when you face a stressful situation and learn to release that pressure on a healthy way. Meditation can help you step out of your head and get the new perspective on the problem. Finally, meditation will teach you how to relax and release the tension you might be holding when you feel stressed. Try it out; it’s one of the easiest techniques you can implement to your daily routine today to improve your well-being.