Workplace stress is a real issue that we all face. Work and study related stress can result from many things, a grueling schedule to unresolved personal conflicts. How you handle excessive stress can affect not just on the job and study performance, but your personal relationships and health.
Remember, some stress is useful. It keeps us on our toes and pushes us to perform better. Likewise, some people have developed coping strategies from an early age that allow them to handle more stress than others. While deadlines and regular performance reviews may be a cause of stress for some, these same factors go nearly unnoticed by others. Keep an eye on your stress level by watching out for symptoms of excessive stress:
- Stomach aches
- Apathy, or loss of interest in your work
- Social withdrawal
- Muscle tension and aches
If you feel excessively and uncomfortably stressed reach out to others; friends, family, teachers. Take time to reinvigorate existing relationships, if for no other reason than having emotional support is key to dealing with stressful situations.
Complement your emotional support with a commitment to healthy habits. Exercise is a great way to handle stress. It increases your endorphins, nature’s happy drug, which helps you achieve and maintain a good mood. It also helps you to physically relax and sleep well. You will find that a brisk walk during your lunch break is meditation in motion. Exercising is like giving your mind a little vacation from the challenges you are facing, while also burning a few unwanted calories. Make getting a full night’s sleep a priority and avoid overindulging in “comfort foods”. These are often very high is fat, sugar, and salt. Yes, they taste great for a moment, but the increased cortisol levels in your blood from feeling excessively stressed might only contribute to unwanted weight gain.
Finally, be proactive in reducing stressors. Sometimes the nature of what you are doing is stressful. Surgeons, for example, operate under an elevated level of stress at all times. In order to maintain sanity and provide the best service to their patients they must find ways to cope with the stresses associated with being a surgeon - typically, long runs, listening to relaxing music, dynamic sporting activities such as squash or swimming.
We should all adopt a range of initiatives to mitigate the effects of excessive stress. That may mean asking to be reassigned, or explaining to your supervisor that you need more freedom to complete your work. In many cases, what is needed is simply a shift in perspective. Finding meaning to what you are doing, be it studies or work, properly prioritising your tasks, or shifting from one team to another can help to alleviate excessive stress.
Whatever the source of your excessive stress, it is important to keep track of how you are being affected, both physically and emotionally. Seeking support should not be viewed as a sign of weakness, quite the contrary.