7 Stress Management Tips for a Happier and Healthier Life
World Health Organization says stress is “the health epidemic of the 21st century”
Stress is a common thread that intricately weaves its way through the lives of most people often leaving a wake of emotional and physical turmoil. The stress beast can dig its claws into you at work, at home, in your social life and in your relationships, or while watching headline news about the latest terrorist attack. Plus, the holidays can aggravate stress by imploding “to-do” lists, jammed-pack social calendars with numerous family gatherings, and the worry over money to pay for it all.
The World Health Organization says stress is “the health epidemic of the 21st century,” a real “worldwide health epidemic,” so you are not alone if you have experienced chronic stress. Four great stressors in today’s world revolve around money, work, poor health, and increasingly negative headlines concerning world events.
What are the physical and emotional side-effects of too much stress?
Not all stress is bad. Healthy stress can help you face challenges, stay focused, or provide energy to tackle important projects. Healthy stress can help keep you alert at work to prevent accidents or costly mistakes. However, when stress becomes overwhelming and excessive, it can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional well being.
Some of the physical symptoms of excessive stress include:
- Insomnia—a double whammy because sleeping issues affect your ability to perform the next day, thereby increasing stress levels and fatigue
- Stomach problems, nausea, and lack of appetite
- Muscle tension in neck and lower back and teeth grinding
- Headaches, including debilitating migraine headaches
- High blood pressure or racing heart
Some of the emotional symptoms of excessive stress include:
- Feelings of anger, depression, irritability, helplessness, and anxiousness
- Short-tempered behavior
- Lack of confidence in one’s ability and talents · Declining mental focus, which can lead to poor safety compliance, increased risk of injury on the job, and impaired decision making
- Negative outlook for the future
If stress is continuous and becomes chronic, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, workplace injury, diabetes, obesity, and impaired immune function.
10 Common Stressors
Because of technological advances, globalization, sensory overload, and the repercussions of the 2008 recession, our lives have changed at breakneck speed. Although many situations can lead to stress, here are ten common stressors:
- Lack of money and floundering finances
- Death of a loved one
- Divorce or breakup with significant other or BFF
- Major illness, injury or poor health condition (yourself or an aging parent)
- Job loss and insecurity
- Work-related stress from demanding jobs and excessive overtime
- The “always on” email and social media culture
- Childhood trauma
- Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, etc. Even if you are not a victim of the disaster, the news about it can cause anxiety and uncertainty.
7 tips to successfully manage stress
As in any problematic situation, denial of the problem leads to more stress. In the workplace, it’s easy to see when people are not wearing hard hats, Hi-Viz vests, or hand protection, so the unsafe behavior can be easily identified and rectified. However, stress is intangible and is often difficult to identify.
Here are 7 tips for successfully managing stress at work and in your personal life:
1. Engage in open and honest discussions about your stress with your boss and your family. During this conversation, share possible solutions that would help alleviate the stress, such as an alternative work schedule, compressed workweeks, job-sharing, etc.
2. Let go of things over which you have no control and stop railing against situations you can’t truly change. (This is easier said than done!)
3. Relax, meditate, or listen to soothing music at least 20 minutes every day. Relaxation practices, such as deep breathing, yoga, bubble baths, and meditation dramatically decrease stress levels calming your mind and body.
4. Exercise on a regular basis, eat healthy, whole foods most of the time, and get eight hours of sleep.
5. Set aside leisure time to do something you truly enjoy every day. Whether it’s walking your pet, curling up with your favorite book, or going to the movies and eating popcorn, choose activities that make you smile and laugh.
6. Stop demanding perfectionism from yourself and others. Perfectionism is a self-defeating, self-sabotaging behavior that sets people up for failure.
7. Practice gratitude every day. Giving thanks goes a long way to decreasing stress and improving your life in general.
According to Gina Soleil, the author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit, “work-life balance is needed more today than in the past 30-years. For the sake of both human health and business productivity, we need businesses throughout the nation to actively support people in their effort to reduce stress and find a healthy ‘balance’ in their lives.”
In addition to work-life balance, another way to help reduce stress in the workplace is to outfit your workers with the proper safety gear. Providing workers with quality personal protective equipment (PPE) not only helps meet OSHA requirements and ANSI standards, it also relieves stress because it sends a positive message that the company cares about the protection, health and well-being of workers, and that’s a good thing.