Everyone experiences stress – it’s a natural part of life.
Stress is your physical, emotional and mental response to changes, challenges and circumstances. The daily work pressures and family demands in our fast-paced society create stress. So do situations such as ill health in yourself or a loved one, financial difficulties and even happy events such as a job promotion.
Stress isn’t all bad. Without it, we would not be motivated to get things done. However, excessive stress can cause health problems and affect your ability to work safely. It can lower your ability to fight off infectious diseases. Chronic illnesses such as ulcers and heart disease can be linked to long-term stress.
A stressed, worried state of mind can distract you from working safely. Have you ever had a near-accident when driving while your mind was on a problem instead of the road? Workplace accidents can happen in the same manner if you are anxious about problems at work or off the job.
You can’t escape stress, but you can learn to handle it better to minimize its harmful effects.
Try these tips for developing greater resistance to stress:
– Quickly determine if a problem affects your safety or survival right at this moment. Unless it does, you don’t need to respond to it with physical stress symptoms. If you don’t need to fight or flee right now, you don’t need the rapid heartbeat, clenched muscles and digestive upsets which your body employs to help you survive physical danger. If you don’t need these responses – and you rarely do – relax your body and mind instead.
– Get the big picture instead of worrying about small problems you can’t fix. Ask yourself, “How important is it?” and “Will this be important tomorrow or next year?”
– Solve the problems you can by facing them head on now. If you have a job to do, concentrate on it.
– As for the problems you can’t solve at the moment, try to put them out of your mind until you can do something constructive about them.
– Think positively. While accepting the possibility of the worst happening, try to anticipate the best. Try to think well of your co-workers, customers and other people.
– Learn to manage your time better, so you are not faced with last-minute scrambles to meet project deadlines. If you have to move a mountain, do it a bit at a time each day.
– Get help. If you have too much to do, talk to your supervisor and come up with a solution together. Ask your family to help with home responsibilities.
– Learn some relaxation techniques. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation help your body and mind to settle down. Instruction in these techniques is available through many community programs, books and tapes.
– Get enough sleep. Cutting your sleep schedule is not a good way to deal with work overload.
– Take your scheduled rest breaks at work. Spend your coffee and lunch breaks away from your work station for a change of pace.
– Find some time for recreation every day. Work on a hobby or take part in a sport.
– Exercise regularly. A daily walk or a gym workout several times a week help keep you strong and better able to deal with stress.
– Eat right. Regular meals of nutritious food give you the fuel you need handle stress in a healthy manner. Limit your consumption of empty calorie foods and beverages.
– Take it easy on drinks containing caffeine, alcoholic beverages and other drugs. All of these tend to make you feel more anxious in the long run.
Stress is a fact of life for everyone. In fact, some stress is necessary to accomplish anything. You can learn to handle stress in a healthy manner and minimize its effects on your health and safety.