Managing Workplace Stress - Finding An Outlet for Your Energy
When our bodies feel stressed, adrenaline is released due to the “fight and flight response” and this must be utilised. The physiological stress response is activated by any kind of demand, whether or not it requires physical activity. If our physiological “fight or flight” response is not "worked off" or otherwise managed, in time it can negatively impact us. For most of us though, when we are feeling stressed at work, we still continue to sit sedentary at our desk or work station completing our tasks.
One of the simplest and most obvious ways to find an outlet for the energy created by stress is to get your body moving. Exercise is not only a proactive way to manage the build up of internal tension, but it can also be a protective factor. In fact, exercise has been found to:
boost serotonin levels – these are the feel good hormones
decrease overall levels of tension
elevate and stabilise mood
lowers the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety
Just five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Two types of exercise are especially important in improving your overall health and fitness, as well as improving your ability to handle the long-term effects of stress.
To optimize your health you need small movements throughout the day (that doesn’t necessarily change your heart rate), as well as movement that raises your heart rate for sustained periods.
Incidental exercise is any exercise or physical activity that is part of your daily routine. Although each incidental activity or movement in isolation may be viewed as only a small amount of time, when combined this can add up to a significant portion of an individual’s overall activity levels.
A person may meet the minimum recommendations for physical activity by doing regular structured physical activity, but still may typically sit for prolonged periods of the day – still placing them at risk for health and stress related problems.
The health benefits of regular exercise that increases your heart rate have been well established. Depending upon the intensity of the workout, this can also act as a mind break from the stressors of the workplace, allowing you to clear your head once you are away from the office.
Some ideas and tips include:
At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity on most, preferably all days of the week
Walking with friends or taking your dog for a walk – allows for multi-tasking, socializing plus exercise! –and you may also be provided with social support
If you are low on time – HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can be extremely effective and studies are beginning to show that the health benefits can be just as great, and if not greater, than longer periods of exercise
If you live close to your workplace – walking or cycling to work
Make chores such as cleaning the house your workout – add some squats or put on some music
Hobbies / Enjoyable Past Times
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of daily life that we forget to take time for ourselves to participate in activities that we enjoy. This may be something as simple as watching our favourite show or reading a book, or could involve participating in a hobby or a sport that we enjoy.
Now this is definitely not a new tip or strategy, but it is definitely an age old favourite. Relaxation. In order to properly wind down from the
stressors at work, allowing our body to effectively rest and recover, relaxation is key.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Progressive Muscle Relaxation