Stress is something that everyone deals with. Whether you experience it under certain circumstances or it’s chronic, stress is a very real and present health issue that should not be dismissed. A 2017 Gallup poll revealed that around 80 percent of Americans report sometimes or frequently experienced stress in their daily lives. Stress is a well-known contributor to conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and even obesity.

If there’s one place you’re sure to encounter stress, it’s in the workplace. Many Americans are working longer hours than ever before, sometimes in very energetic and even chaotic work environments. After days, weeks, and months of this, it can start to take a serious toll on your health and general well-being. Read on to learn a few tips for coping with this problem.

Pack a Healthy Lunch

Everyone knows what it’s like to be pressed for time. Maybe you have strict deadlines to meet or you have a lot going on in your personal life. This is all fine and dandy unless it negatively affects the way you eat and more importantly, what you eat. Unfortunately, when people lack time, they usually reach for something that will provide them with a quick energy boost, like a candy bar or some other type of sweets.

Studies at the Mayo Clinic have shown that refined sugar causes the pancreas to spike insulin levels in the body. Once this wears off, our blood sugar crashes along with our mood. When this happens, you won’t be physically or mentally prepared to take on the challenges of the day. Instead, you’ll likely feel irritable and fatigued. 

To avoid this, spend some time each week to put together a meal plan. Veggies, fruit, and yogurt will make great foods to snack on throughout the day. In the morning, try to eat a decent breakfast with eggs or oatmeal. You want something that will hold you over until lunch so that you don’t overeat in the middle of the day.

Take Frequent Breaks Throughout the Day

Many people get caught up in the work that they’re doing and don’t take a break for hours at a time. While this may allow you to get a lot done at first, you’re likely going to burn out later in the day, causing you to fall further and further behind. When this happens, you’re likely to experience a lot of stress and anxiety.

To avoid this, take 5-minute breaks every 45 minutes to an hour. This doesn’t mean you should hop on Facebook or poke around your phone. Studies show that using social media throughout the day can actually increase stress levels rather than decrease them. Instead, get up from your desk and go for a walk or talk with a friend.

Exercise in the Morning

Physical exercise is a well-known stress reducer. The problem is, most people choose to exercise after getting home from work instead of before. In many ways, this is a mistake because after a long day at work our bodies are winding down and getting ready for bed. What’s more, late-night exercise may actually disrupt your sleep patterns, making you more likely to feel groggy the next day.

Another good reason to adopt a dog from the your local shelter: walk your doggie early in the morning.

Alternatively, you can wake up an hour early and get to the gym. This will wake you up faster than a cup of coffee and boost your mood so that you’re ready for a long day of work. Exercise also suppresses hunger and moves blood away from your digestive system, meaning you’ll be less likely to snack on stress-inducing foods throughout the day.

Fix Your Posture and Breathing Habits

Breathing is life but most of us take short and shallow breaths. It’s far too easy to give into bad posture and breathing habits throughout the day. Stress can lead to a slouched back, raised shoulders, and inefficient breathing which inevitably leads to more stress building up throughout the day. Pay attention to these things throughout the day and make adjustments when you notice yourself slipping.

If you’re having trouble, try using a posture corrector. This is a small band that goes over your shoulders and pulls them back. Once it becomes second nature, you can take the posture corrector off. Another way to reduce stress at work is to breathe slowly and deeply. Shallow and fast breaths can lead to hyperventilation and added stress.

Take a Walk During your Lunch Break and while you’re at it whistle

I understand that you may be super busy and it feels like you don’t have time for a lunch break and often chooses to eat at your desk, but don’t! No job is more important than your health. Doctors are recommending to walk away from your computer or your work activities and to take a walk around the block for ten minutes. And while you’re at it, hum or whistle. It will put a smile on your face, clear your head, get your heart a light workout, and make you feel better.

These are just a few of the most effective ways to reduce stress at work. If you’ve tried the above solutions and still experience stress, it never hurts to address the issue with your doctor. While stress may not seem like an urgent medical condition, over time, it can lead to some pretty serious health issues.

Featured image by Andrea Piacquadio