Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.
Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are: low salaries, excessive workloads, few opportunities for growth and advancement, lack of social support or unclear performance expectations. For workers everywhere, the economy may feel like an emotional roller coaster. “Layoffs” and “budget cuts” are common in the workplace, and the result is increased fear, uncertainty, and higher levels of stress.
Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being. In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomach-ache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.
Don’t be emotion-all
Start by paying attention to your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of, you’re stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel, the better equipped you’ll be to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed.
Taking care of your self doesn’t require a total lifestyle overhaul. Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat. Take things one step at a time, and as you make more positive lifestyle choices, you’ll soon notice a reduction in your stress levels, both at home and at work.
Many of us make job stress worse with negative thoughts and behaviour. If you can turn around these self-defeating habits, you’ll find employer-imposed stress easier to handle. Yoga and Meditation have dyed-in-the-wool to be a powerful stress reliever.
Read up to find relief from workplace stress with these simple yogasanas.
- Tadasana: mountain pose – It is a basic standing posture and is, therefore, the foundation for all others. Physically, it helps to create space within the body, allowing internal organs to work more efficiently. This can drastically improve respiration as well as digestion and circulation. Mentally, it leaves its users invigorated and motivated.
- Vrikshasana: tree pose – It is a wonderful pose that teaches balance while toning the leg muscles. It builds self-confidence and esteem and also helps one to achieve balance in other aspects of life.
- Vajrasana: diamond pose – A sitting posture for practicing breathing exercises and meditation. A few minutes of Vajrasana and you can feel the mind calming. It helps to increase the blood circulation in the body.
- Ardha Matsyendrasana: half spinal twist – It is helpful to warm up your hips for this freeing, balancing, and energizing seated twist. It also relieves symptoms of backache, fatigue, menstrual discomfort and sciatica.
- Gomukhasana: cow head pose – This pose has immense benefits as it helps to make the back flexible. It stimulates the kidneys and can help those suffering from diabetes.
- Shavasana: corpse pose – It looks like the easiest pose in the whole yoga practice, but can be the most challenging. It helps to lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate. This posture brings a deep, meditative state of rest, which may help in the repair of tissues and cells. And it releases stress, leaving you in a state of rejuvenation.
These yogasanas are the easiest to perform, as they can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may notice a “feel good sensation” immediately following these, and most people note an improvement in general well-being over time as physical activity becomes a part of their routine.
Say no to stress
Being stressed has become a way of life for many people. In fact, at times it seems that being busy is a badge of honor. Long-term chronic stress can have serious implications for your health.
Dispel your stress:
- Take time away. Take a quick break and move away from the stressful situation. Take a stroll outside the workplace if possible, or spend a few minutes meditating in the break room. Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly reduce stress.
- Talk it over with someone. Simply sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust can help reduce stress. Talking over a problem with someone who is both supportive and empathetic can be a great way to let off steam and help you become calm and focused.
- Connect with others at work. Developing friendships with some of your co-workers can help buffer you from the negative effects of stress. Remember to listen to them and offer support when they are in need as well.
- Look for humor in the situation. When used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress in the workplace. When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or funny story.
Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experiences and thoughts without judging them) can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you’ll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.
To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, spend time with your partner and unwind. When you’re not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your Smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while. Remember to be aware of times when you need to log off and restart.