March 14, 2017
Modern life is stressful and it’s all too easy to leave the office shot through with anxiety, tiredness or unhappiness.
Unfortunately, lots of us tend to be very good at ‘taking’ stress with us throughout the day, so by the time it’s over, we’re wrathful, exhausted and furious with ourselves.
Is there a way to get rid of worries and rising blood pressure throughout the day? Happily, yes. And once you start implementing these tiny behavioural changes into your day, you’ll begin to feel much better.
Leave your desk for 15 minutes. If your workload is getting on top of you, stop what you’re doing (obviously finish off sending important emails and the like), and hop outside for a break. Don’t take work with you. Don’t take your phone with you. Empty your mind, like at the end of Ghostbusters. You’ll head back feeling so much better.
Give up smoking. Not only does smoking heighten your blood pressure and your stress levels (it’s a stimulant, not a relaxant), but it’s super bad for you and it costs loads. Your 11am smoke might feel wonderful when you get around to it - but how grumpy and irritable are you beforehand?
Breathe deeply. Panicky, shallow breathing will increase your cortisol levels and increase feelings of breathlessness and irritability. Several times a day, check your breathing. Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. This will give your body a chance to regulate your oxygen levels and calm you down, as too much oxygen in your blood can, counterproductively, lead to feelings of hyperventilating.
Write down your tasks for the day, and what you need to do. Not only does this help you plan your day and make the most of your workload, but you can also put your mind at ease if you feel like you’re too flustered to get anything done.
Separate tasks. Take the most pressing item on your agenda and deal with it with no interruptions. Push back on other projects if you feel that a certain task needs a large amount of your time and make sure you’re not taking on too much. It’s OK to say ‘I can’t do this right now, but I will.’
Ease off the coffee! Coffee gives you a great boost in the morning but throughout the day it can wreak havoc on the nervous system, as caffeine is a very nifty stimulant. Cut back on the tea and coffee, and substitute for a fresh juice. You’ll find that you no longer have the highs followed by the crashing lows.
Take a break. Unless you’re superhuman, you can’t work relentlessly for nine hours. If you start taking some time out, your career will benefit in two ways. One - you’ll get to go outside, breathe fresh air, and take some time out from the pressures you’re facing. Two - your colleagues will see you managing your workload with confidence, and will respect you for it.
Write down what’s troubling you! If you’ve got a problem you’re mulling over and can’t seem to shake it, get into the habit of writing it down - then realistically assessing it. How ‘true’ is it on a scale of 1-10? What evidence do you have to support it - and disprove it? This mini CBT technique will help to reduce the power your worries have over you, and stop them ‘snowballing’.
Have some water or a handful of nuts/piece of fruit. It’s easy to find yourself snapping if you’re hungry or thirsty, so keep yourself topped up. Remember, if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Ask for help. If you’re regularly feeling stressed, tearful or breathless, let someone know. Your colleagues and your managers rely on you, and if you’re a panicky mess, you’re no good to anyone! Clearly and calmly explain what’s wrong and explain why your workload is suddenly holding you back; you will soon find that plenty of people will offer to help you and/or give you extra time to get yourself back on track.
The easiest and simplest ways to calm down and make the most of your working day are the best. Our advice? Step away from your screen, head outside, breathe deeply and calmly and try to clear your mind. A few minutes of peace will enable you to deal much more capably with any more chaos the office has lined up for you later on!