Today is the last day of Stress Awareness Month; a 30 day period dedicated to increasing public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern-day stress epidemic.
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992; but despite it’s longevity, the Mental Health Foundation states that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. With millions of people in the UK experiencing high levels of stress, especially whilst at work, Tonic helps empower individuals to take control and feel less stressed in the workplace.
During our blog from February, we spoke about stress at work; how to identify workplace stressors and the real effects they can have on your mind and body. From working long hours, lack of job satisfaction, bad relationships with colleagues to low pay – they all build up and, if they become chronic and are ignored, that’s when the problems really begin!
When stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to physical, mental and emotional symptoms. And as a result, stress will have a significantly negative impact on your daily life.
“The most crucial thing we can do when we are stressed or anxious is to make sure we are continuing to look after ourselves. Making time to relax when we need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much.”
So if we can start to identify what is contributing to our stress levels in the workplace, we can start thinking about what we can do to reduce them. Here we have compiled simple changes that are proven to help reduce stress…
Water – From helping deliver oxygen around our bodies, boosting skin & hair, lubricating our joints to helping us feel focused and energised, there are plenty of perks of making we sure we drink enough water everyday.
Some Scientists have suggested that when there is too little water in the body, heat storage increases and we are left feeling less able to tolerate heat. Therefore having plenty of water in the body can help reduce physical strain as well as make us feel much more relaxed. Put simply, we say drinking plenty of water everyday is an effective way to help reduce feeling stressed at work.
Superfoods – Eating fresh, nutrient-dense foods is another great, simple way to help us feel less stressed at work.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that help boost immunity and counter stress. Anthocyanins are the pigments that give berries like blueberries and blackberries their deep colour. These antioxidants aid your brain in the production of dopamine, a chemical that is critical to coordination, memory function and your mood.
“Research has shown that blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells; a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in the immunity, critical for countering stress.” Dr Mercola
Blueberries are also a healthy, low-glycaemic-index carbohydrate. An especially good choice for those in need of better blood sugar control, plus they are a source for Vitamin C.
Other great superfoods to eat include:
“By choosing fresh healthy foods you can actually impact your mood on a positive note, helping to relieve tension, stabilise blood sugar, and send your stress packing.”
Sometimes we are just so busy with day to day life, that we forget to do the smallest of things, such as breathing properly. Taking slow, deep breathes and emphasising your exhale can make a huge difference. As this promoted the relaxation response it lowers your heart rate and blood pressure; guaranteeing to make you feel more relaxed.
Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations. It’s especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.
First steps. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out really slowly through your mouth.
Breath focus in practice. Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of controlled or diaphragmatic breathing. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you to relax. We show you how to do this in our Relaxation workshop. The feedback we always get is how simple yet effective it is immediately.
Other techniques which can help you turn down your response to stress:
There are plenty of times when we struggle to concentrate; our minds have gone blank and we forget what we were doing. In the workplace it’s extremely easy to get caught up by workloads, ongoing projects and doing too many tasks at once. That’s why it’s important to MOVE MORE! Taking a brief break from your desk and going for a short walk will give you the benefit of having some time alone away from your current objectives (ideally get outside if you can), and give you the time to gather your thoughts and refocus your mind.
Take a look back at our On Your Feet Day article which talks more about taking simple steps to get more active whilst in the workplace. If you would like to find out more about our workplace wellbeing workshops contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website to find out more.
Although stress is an unavoidable reality in today’s society, it’s time to put yourself first! Get those stress levels under control and protect your body & mind! #stressproofyourlife
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