Stress is the burden on one’s emotional or mental well-being created by demands on one’s time.
Synonyms: Pressure, strain, tension.
As April is stress awareness month, we are going to focus on ways to manage it. Stress is just a word in our minds, incapable of causing any real damage; therefore, I’ve decided to use the synonym of pressure instead. Work, deadlines, and financial issues can add up to a lot of pressure. In a physical sense, we can compare that pressure to a pot of boiling water on the stove with the lid on. As the water gets hotter, the pressure builds until the pot is physically shaking on the element. With the lid covering the boiling water, the steam is trapped and the pressure builds even more until the inevitable happens and that lid flies off. This is stress, and we are the shaking pot. Yes, it can get that bad until eventually, whether we can afford it or not, we crash.
There has to be a way to relieve the pressure, right? That boiling pot no one is paying attention to just needs to release the steam and it will stop shaking. Obviously, the water in the pot is there for a reason and it needs to boil; otherwise it will just go cold. We do need stress because some stress is good, but we also need to make sure to take the lid off and release the steam. The following tips will not eliminate stress completely; you don’t want that anyway, but what these tips will do is manage your stress and keep that lid from blowing off the pot and putting a hole in your wall.
- Practice effective time management.
Balancing the time you have in your work life and your home life effectively will allow you to still meet deadlines while also keeping your priorities in check. How is this achieved? The only one who can improve your time management skills is you, but before jumping in for the quick fix, you need to understand that this adjustment to your life is going to take time, patience, and discipline. Habits have to be practiced and repeated before they become habits, so here are some to consider: avoid procrastinating, set clear goals, leave an ample amount of time for editing and reviewing; prioritize, organize, and make a to-do list to keep in front of you for reference.
The positive effects of proper time management are allowing for more time to be creative as well as to reduce stress and anxiety. This consequently will permit more time for you to think and to resolve issues quicker and easier. Proper time management also improves the relationships you have with yourself and others and improves the quality of your work. You won’t feel the need to rush and you won’t feel overwhelmed by daunting tasks. You will be more available and you will give yourself more leeway to get things done, therefore, establishing control of your circumstances and getting the most out of your day.
- Have a lunch break
I say this to the people I know and work with on a daily basis: the only way to recharge after a long morning of answering phone calls, emails, dealing with charts and deadlines is not to bring your lunch to your desk. Don’t do it. Eating at your desk means that you are still working. You need to get away from your desk for that half hour or hour you’re allotted. This is also true when it comes to your ten or fifteen minute breaks. In many companies, it’s mandatory to take these breaks, but it is more important to take real breaks, breaks for the brain and the body. A few ways to do this are by getting out of the building and taking a walk, doing yoga in another room, or simply just scrolling through Facebook on your phone, anything to clear your brain of all things work-related.
Now let’s look at the physical and emotional benefits of getting away from your desk for those designated breaks: You will be more productive and more creative because you will have given your brain a much needed break to consider fresh ideas. You will be healthier because you won’t be splitting your attention between your work and your lunch, therefore, improving digestion. You will be doing less sitting which has been proven to be unhealthy in long stretches. You will enjoy your food a lot more. And you can use those breaks to catch up with friends and distract yourself from a looming deadline.
Basically, these breaks are mandatory for a reason; you need them, so take them.
- Take a Vacation
A 2014 survey conducted by the TD bank found that 43% of Canadians reported using up all their vacation days. Then Expedia.ca conducted a “Vacation Deprivation” 2015 survey and found that Canadians left 10 million vacation days unused. Why aren’t we taking all our allotted vacation days? Some reasons include work schedules and debt. You might not believe this, but working without a significant break is unhealthy, so before you make the choice not to take vacation, let’s look at the benefits; that way, you can decide for yourself whether it’s a good idea.
- improves physical health
- lessens the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks
- helps ditch negative habits
- allows to implement changes in your life
- helps you sleep better
- improves digestion
- improves mental health
- increases productivity when you return to work
- renews energy
- freshens your perspective
- reduces risk of burnout
Now that I’ve provided you with all the benefits of taking a vacation (and that is probably not all of them), the biggest benefit to you is returning to work stress-free and happy. However, before you start packing with all intentions of going somewhere tropical, there are a few things you are not allowed to take with you. The reason we all get so stressed out is because we refuse to leave the job alone even when we’re not on the clock. So when it comes to vacation, some people take work with them in the form of paperwork, mandatory reading, and even leaving their phone on to receive texts, emails, and phone calls from the boss. The whole point of vacation is to relax. You can’t relax if you’re thinking about work and you can’t think about work if you leave the work stuff at work. Believe it or not, you deserve this break so, just like those fifteens and your lunches, take this break and enjoy it. You’ll be better for it.