Dealing with Stress at Work and at Home
By Christina Radziejewski
Medical and psychopathology researchers have found that stress has many ill effects on both the brain and body if stress is not managed well. The effects of stress are made worse when paired with an existing medical condition such as hypertension or a poor immune system. Chronic stress, if left untreated, can cause long term harm to the individual, especially in later age.
The good new is, stress can be managed and controlled. Quality of life can improve when stress is under control. Additionally, research revealed that when stress is managed well, learning and memory can improve following a period of chronic stress.
Dealing with Stress at Work
Long-term consequences of stress in old age can be avoided, or at least alleviated. This can be achieved through consistent stress management interventions by individuals, and by employers.
Stress has become so prevalent within organizations that stress management interventions have become the norm in workplaces. Here are some stress management strategies that employers could adopt in their workplaces:
- Teach progressive muscle relaxation techniques, visualization, meditation and yoga to employees who may find these methods helpful.
- Encourage employees to team up with their co-workers for a friendly game during the lunch hour or take part in friendly competition. They could also participate in community activities, such as a food drive, or volunteer at local community activities.
- Encourage employees to take time out for a walk in the park during lunch and tea breaks. This is a great way to de-stress and to refresh one’s mind to engage the rest of the work day.
- Ensure a culture of respect and professionalism in workplaces. Employ individuals who are appropriately trained and well suited for the roles for which they were hired.
- Employers could also provide regular training sessions, by bringing in speakers on popular topics. This could serve to motivate employees and to inculcate an environment of learning.
- Ensure that they consistently uphold the organization’s policies against bullying, harassment, and violence in the workplace. A zero-tolerance policy on these types of behaviours sends the message that their employer cares for their personal wellbeing at work.
- Make provision for employees to seek counselling when these are required or requested by employees.
Additionally, employers must …
The majority of these strategies to deal with stress at work can be implemented at very little cost. Furthermore, the majority can be started immediately. Others may require skilled consultants, for example, in meditation and yoga, exercise, nutrition, and counselling.
Dealing with Stress at Home
There are many things that we can do to ensure that stress does not affect family life.
- Build up a strong support group of family and friends who are positive influencers during stressful experiences. Research shows that people with better relationships have lower levels of stress. These folks are able to call on their social support systems when stressors arise.
Tip to manage stress at home: Make it a point to meet with a family member or friend on a regular basis. Make it your special time, a time to share the many positives that are also happening in your life. Perhaps it is also a time to share some of the challenges that you are facing. Meet for lunch, chat over coffee, or simply go for a walk.
- Keep fit through physical activities is another way to manage stress. Some find hiking, running and biking to be great ways to de-stress after a long day at work. Others may head to the gym, meet with friends for a game or two, or take part in competitive activities.
Tip to manage stress at home: Set yourself a goal, whether it is weight loss, or a certain daily caloric level. Goals help us to focus. Don’t forget to celebrate milestones along the way, even the small ones. Every step counts.
- It is also important for individuals to take time out for themselves on a regular, if not daily, basis. Learning to wind down after a long day by taking a bath, reading a novel, playing an instrument, or journaling. Learn to nourish yourself, recuperate from a day of work and from taking care of others.
Tip to manage stress at home: Switch off all electronic gadgets or put them in silent mode. Ahhh, this is a hard one for some of us! We would encourage you to give it a shot. You may just find that you can survive for an hour without your cell phone, ipad or computer.
- Engage in a hobby that can help to take your mind away from the responsibilities of life.
Tip to manage stress at home: Again, set yourself a goal. Take part in the annual Sun Run, singing competitions, or have your art exhibited. Whatever it is, immerse yourself such that it takes away the stresses of daily life, even for an hour or two every week.
- Eat a healthy diet, low in fat and sugars. Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) for your weight and height.
Tip to manage stress at home: Set yourself an achievable goal and don’t forget to celebrate along the way!
- Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep every night.
Tip to manage stress at home Create a sleep routine with at least a half-hour winding down time.
- Avoid drinking excessively, and no smoking.
Tip to manage stress at home If you’re a social drinker who find yourself occasionally binge drinking, find a buddy who can help you when the desire kicks in.
- Learn some easy relaxation exercises to counter moments of stress. Coming soon!
Additionally, these are healthy habits that everyone can benefit from …
It is evident that stress is an inescapable consequence of life. All individuals will suffer some form of stress at some point in their lives. We all respond differently to stressors and we will present different behaviours after major life events. However, those who do not manage stress well may become vulnerable to long term effects such as depression and coronary heart disease.
Innova Centre for Counselling & Psychotherapy offers counselling to help individuals deal with their workplace issues, including stress management and bullying.