Is it important to overcome stress?
It’s been well documented the work hours lost attributed to stress. An expensive condition to both employee, employer and the self-employed. And yet we still push ourselves to the limit and don’t raise our heads enough to notice that this month is a perfect time to slow down a little.
According to medical research the physical problems related to chronic stress include the lowering of the immune response, chronic muscle tension, and increased blood pressure. These problems can eventually lead to serious life-threatening illnesses such as heart attacks, kidney disease, and cancer.
When your immune system is compromised you are prone to catching colds, fevers and any bug in proximity- you literally cannot fight off infection. You may find that as soon as you relax, such as go on holiday, you get ill and then as you are forced to rest you recover and eventually feel much better than prior to the illness. The adrenaline of working can keep your immune response functioning but all you are doing is stacking up the impact of the underlying stress for later.
Stress leads to everyday niggles such as headaches, insomnia, panic attacks, general aches and pains and a feeling of being “under the weather”. More serious long term effects of stress are depression, weight loss or gain and mood swings that disrupt your work and family life.
Take a stress break
A vast swathe of the working population is now entering the summer holiday season when their sprogs are off school and need catering for in other ways. Noting that the ideal is not to leave them glued to their phones or game consoles thoughts turn to taking off for an annual getaway. How best to keep them entertained…How best to deal with the increased costs of looking after them….They might get 7 weeks off but can you afford to? All this induces a different kind of stress which is equally as damaging. You are supposed to be taking a break and overcoming stress but all that is happening is the stress triggers have changed.
For us childless people August brings another type of stress. With so many others off work for large chunks of time our work automatically slows down as fewer decisions are made or are deferred until after the summer break. Particularly for the self-employed this can be extremely frustrating e.g. not many companies have conferences in August so my work dries up!
However, the trick is to embrace this change of pace. It’s going to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it so accept it and make the best of the slower period ahead.
Overcoming stress – some practical tips
Don’t wait until your holidays to tackle your stress- but make the most of this break to set yourself up with some good habits.
It’s all about pacing yourself. That means getting a regular good night’s sleep and eating properly as the basics.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is necessary.
If you are working then your organisation may offer some stress busting activities as part of their staff welfare program- take advantage of them
If you are self-employed, then when you do your annual planning, identify your peaks and troughs. Build in a break in the quiet times and use those times for long term planning that will save you time when you are busy.
If you are a parent- planning activities you all enjoy can be as simple as playing sports, going for walks, or playing card games when it rains. The holiday away may not be within your budget but kids value your time more than expensive holidays so stop beating yourself up about it.
Overall, take the impact of stress seriously. If you have a constant headache, feel ill and fed up most of the time- chances are you are experiencing stress. Take some time each day for some deep breathing. Plan your weeks to minimise stressful situations and when all else fails, get outside in the fresh air and walk. Studies show that nature is one of the best cures for feeling stressed.
I will be covering some stress busting techniques in later articles, but would be interested to hear any of your tips- just comment below.