Managing stress in the workplace

Stress is a leading health problem in today’s fast-paced society and as a society we are more ravaged by the consequences of stress today than at any time in previous history. Work related stress or burnout affects an alarming 25% of people! We can’t help reduce your workload, but there are ways to help you cope.

Sleep

Insufficient sleep will exacerbate your stress response in the workplace. Sleep deprivation results in poor concentration, irritability and mood swings. Focus on improving the duration and quality of your sleep to ensure you are in a rested and calm state to take on your workload.

Diet

A poor quality diet due to the long hours spent at work result in a diminished capacity for our body to deal with stress. Avoid stimulants (caffeine and sugar) which wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, instead focusing on foods which boost serotonin production (your feel good hormone) such as salmon, eggs, spinach. Antioxidants found in fresh fruits, green vegetables and berries containing a rich source of vitamins A, C and E can prevent, inhibit or repair damage caused by oxidative stress. B vitamins found in whole grains, bananas, beans and meats contribute to the maintenance of neural health and are vital for energy. Research has identified vitamin B6 is depleted by chronic stress so increase your intake to help your body cope with increased levels of stress.

Exercise

Those who exercise on  regular basis suffer from less anxiety, fatigue and depression. Exercise can help relieve mental stress as exercise stimulates the production of endorphins which elevate our mood. Exercise also distracts your mind from the worries of daily life. Try exercising in a natural setting for positive mental effects, outdoor exercise and sessions in a calm environment are associated with more stress-reductive effects. Group exercise has the benefit of providing social support which also helps with emotional stress. A highly stressed individual may benefit more from a gentle jog or yoga class as opposed to a cortisol boosting HIIT class.

Author: Kathryn Fielding