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stress

So, the whole point of taking a holiday is to relax, unwind and indulge in that all important 'me time', right?

Wrong.

According to Cpl Resources' latest Employment Market Monitor, one in three of us actually feel more stressed after taking some time off work.

The report suggests that the expectation to be in constant communication puts many workers at the risk of burning out.

The findings also stressed the importance of having incentives and benefits in place in order to maintain employee moral.

Peter Cosgrove, Director, Cpl Resources said: "New opportunities still appeal to contented workers, so it is important to provide employees with enough incentives and benefits to keep them.

"Companies often invest a lot of time and money in hiring new candidates, but these figures show that it is worth focusing on managing the talent already in the company."

It also emerged that 60 per cent of workers prefer email for communication and while this might be an efficient means of getting messages from one place to another, workers are missing out on vital colleague interactions.

Mr Cosgrove said: "More typing and less talking may be good for efficiency, but it negatively impacts the amount of face to face interaction and relationship-building within the office and with clients."

But hey, even if our stress levels are set to peak, we probably won't care when we're sipping cocktails by the pool.

Sayonara! 

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You only need to chat to friends and colleagues to realise that a worrying number of people within your social circle are experiencing and exhibiting signs of stress.

But when terms like 'burned-out' and 'time-poor' are bandied about so often in daily discourse, it's no surprise that many of us have started to normalise these feelings.

Assuming that physical ailments and emotional anguish are part and parcel of millennial life means that many of us fail to properly identify stress, and subsequently neglect to reach out and seek treatment.

With that in mind, it's worth considering the signs and symptoms associated with stress in order to properly care for yourself and your wellbeing before it manifests into a bigger issue.

1. Muscle pain

Stress often manifests itself physically, and one of its key targets are body parts like your neck, shoulders and back.

As tension builds and your stress levels increase, your body responds with the tightening of muscles which results in a stiff or aching upper half.

If you have made all the appropriate changes in your workspace, including adjusting the height of your chair and your computer screen and made similar changes in your home, but still frequently feel pain in these areas, it's worth noting your stress levels and approaching a physician.

2. Irregular heartbeat

We all know that our hearts tend to beat faster when we're frightened or excited, but how are you meant to justify a rapid heartbeat when you're merely tending to tasks in the office?

A prolonged period of stress and anxiety can cause your body to produce the 'stress response' more regularly, and this response includes irregular heart beats, rhythms, heart flutters or skipped heart beats.

In saying that, as the issue concerns your heart, it's important to seek to a GP who can rule out more serious conditions.

3. Breathlessness

Most of us have heard of someone suffering an anxiety attack in an episode where they struggled to breath and 'felt like they were dying'.

As this is an extreme example, many of us tend to dismiss our own experiences where we have struggled to catch our breath or find ourselves breathing shallowly throughout the day.

If you find yourself unable to take a deep breath in the office or can't catch your breath on a day to day basis, it's worth approaching your doctor and highlighting the issue.

4. Insomnia

The internet is awash with memes which depict our generation's apparent inability to switch off from social media in order to get a good night's sleep.

But what if you intend to get some much-need sleep each and every night, but simply can't fall asleep despite the fact you haven't laid eyes on a phone or computer screen in hours?

Struggling to sleep despite being tired is a key indicator of stress, and not something you should ignore.

5. Feeling overwhelmed

It's important to remember that there will be times in everyone's college life or career path when they feel overwhelmed.

This feeling is often temporary and is a response to a project or increasing workload, but normally dissipates once a target or goal has been met.

It's important to seek support if you feel overwhelmed on a day-to-day basis and struggle to find pleasure in other aspects of your daily life.

6.  A general feeling of unhappiness

Stress is not a condition to be dismissed as it plays an enormous role in a person's day-to-day life and their ability to find pleasure with family and friends.

It's totally normal to feel unhappy as a result of circumstances in your life, but when you can't shake the malcontent despite addressing the percieved issues, it's important to take note.

And if you struggle regularly with any of the above symptoms, it's no surprise your prevailing feeling is one of unhappiness.

But listen…

The important thing to remember if you know or feel you are suffering from stress is that there are multiple ways to address it.

From taking the time to note when you feel most stressed to identifying the issues which result in the above symptoms, you are earmarking the potential triggers in your life, and can subsequently act on them.

Whether that means approaching your boss with your concerns, speaking to your bank about your financial issues, or communicating your upset to your partner, you are allowing yourself to seek help and guidance.

Approaching a GP or a counsellor with your symptoms is highly recommended, as they can provide you with methods to tackle the stress and advice on how to keep it at bay.

And most importantly…

There is no shame in feeling stressed. Many of us berate ourselves by insisting that one potentially small issue shouldn't impact so negatively across every aspect of our life, but that's the insidious nature of stress.

The feelings caused by stress don't tend to switch off once you leave the office, close your online banking app or part ways with the friend who is causing you upset. You're not a robot, in other words.

Identifying that you are suffering from it is one of the first steps in treating it.

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So, we're all aware of the physical benefits of cycling.

The low impact exercise can greatly improve cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle strength and flexibility and even lead to lead better posture and coordination.

But, the health benefits don't end there. A new study has found that choosing a bike over a car for your morning commute could actually help reduce stress and improve your work performance.

Researchers at Concordia University compared how different modes of transport affected the stress levels of workers.

The results suggested that cycling to work is the best way to start your day if you are feeling stressed.

Lead author, Stéphane Brutus, said, "Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car.”

123 employees at Autodesk, an information technology company in Old Montreal, were asked questions about their mood, perceived commuting stress and mode of travel through an online survey.

Researchers only assessed answers from respondants who completed the questionnaire within 45 minutes of arriving at work to ensure a more accurate report.

Brutus notes that this time specification was the study's major innovation.

"Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day," he explains.

"They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon for the rest of the day."

He added, "There are relatively few studies that compare the affective experiences of cyclists with those of car and public transport users," says Brutus, an avid cyclist himself. "Our study was an attempt to address that gap."

What's more, previous studies have found that cyclists perceived their commute as being less stressful than those who travelled by car.

So, if you find you're constantly starting the day off on the wrong foot, a pedal-powered commute could be the answer you've been searching for. 

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We all know music can have a soothing effect, but how many of us automatically reach for it in the height of stressful or anxious period?

Well, according to neurologic music therapist, Elizabeth Nightingale, listening to music during an anxious period can have a profoundly positive physiological impact.

From lowering your blood pressure and slowing your heart rate to reducing stress hormones, the power of music cannot be underestimated.

“Classical music has been found to induce relaxation and increase dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps elevate mood,” Eliazabeth of Chiltern Music Therapy explains.

“But music is subjective, so anything that you find calming will have these physiological benefits and will help to reduce anxiety."

It is, however, important to remember that you need to give your chosen music your complete focus if you want it to have the desired effect.

"If there aren’t any competing stimuli, the music is given the maximum chance to benefit," Elizabeth continues.

This theory has been examined in recent years by Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal

Levitan found that music improves the body's immune system function and reduces stress.

His research which was published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences in 2013 and established that listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety in a patient prior to surgery.

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Whether you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks or depression, dealing with the symptoms of a mental health issue is a daily struggle. 

Trying to keep your stress levels down can be a challenge in itself, especially when much of it comes our normal daily routines. 

Here's some of the most common habits that could contribute to low mood levels. 

Drinking too much caffeine

Whether it's your go-to morning coffee or a relaxing cup of tea in the evening, a lot of us rely on caffeine to get us through the day.

However, it might be time to cut-back on the flat whites as studies have shown a link between excessive caffeine intake and depression, moodiness and anxiety.

Try replacing one cup a day with a caffeine free alternative. Your energy levels may still benefit from the placebo effect, but you'll be doing your mental health a huge favour.

Avoiding exercise

The amount of physical activity we get each day can have a huge effect on our mood.

Research has suggested that regular exercise could even ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Start small. Set aside 20 minutes a day for a brisk walk and you'll be amazed at how quickly your mood will improve.

Constantly checking social media 

Comparing yourself to others on social media is a slippery slope that rarely leads anywhere good.

It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that all your school mates are living extraordinary lives, but guess what, they're not .

Sure, maybe Sarah from the Gaelteacht is off raising baby elephants in Thailand for a month, but just remember that social media posts of just the 'highlight reel' of other people's lives.

Staying indoors

Underexposure to natural daylight can wreak havoc on our mental health.

Apart from the natural calming effect nature has on our minds, vitamin D, which is only produced when the body is exposed to sunlight, has been shown to protection against depression.

Overloading on carbs

Simple carbohydrates such as sugary, processed foods are broken down rapidly, providing the body with a quick source of energy.

Eating these types of foods on a regular basis can result in mood swings caused by fluctuating blood sugars.

Instead, try eating more complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and legumes.

Working too hard

This one is a bit of a no-brainer.

It's important to take a step back from your working life in order to focus on yourself.

So, turn off the work e-mails and go visit an old friend or family member – you'll be shocked at how relaxed you'll feel afterwards.

 

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You walk back into the office at 9am sharp. You take a seat and soon realise you have five meetings to attend, your computer has burst into flames and you have 150 emails to reply to.

And then you think, 'this time last week I was having breakfast by the sea'.

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Yep, going back to work after taking a trip away is a bit of a bummer, but you'll soon settle back into normality.

So, if you have even a sliver of the post-holiday blues hanging on your shoulders, here are four ways to make it better.

1. Buy your favourite coffee

Take a few minutes before work to buy your fave three-shot mocha, and just sit back and relax.

Winding yourself up about all the work you have to do will do you no favours. So, just chill for a minute. You can handle it.

café, coffee, cup

2. Catch up with your work wives

You might dread being back in the office setting, but we're sure your work wives are just dying to find out how your holiday was.

Grab a cuppa (you will have a lot of hot beverages on your first day back), and take a minute to chat to them in the kitchen.

Just talking about your fab holiday memories will turn that frown upside down.

Woman in Yellow Long Sleeved Dress Standing Beside Man in White Blue Crew Neck T Shirt

3. Take a walk at lunch

Just a mere two days ago you were walking along the beach, we know, we know. Now your back sitting in your office chair for eight hours.

Do yourself a solid and take a walk a lunch. It'll clear your head after replying to those 100+ emails.

adult, audience, celebration

4. Plan something exciting

We know you literally just stepped off the plane, but having nothing to look forward to can be a bit… well, sh*t.

So, whether it's a small getaway a couple of months from now, or simply a night out with the girls, start planning something that you can get excited about.

Black Pen on White Writing Spring Notebook Between White Ipad and White Ceramic Mug With Latte on White Plate

Going back to work after some time off can be hard, but it really isn't all that bad. You'll no doubt be back up to speed in no time.

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A high-pressure working environment can be one of the leading contributors to stress levels, and in turn can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

Or at least that’s what we thought?

Well, a recent study from Indiana University revealed that those of us with stressful careers are actually around 30 per cent less likely to die young than our chilled out peers.

But, there’s a catch. It all depends on whether or not you have control over your own workload.

Researchers surveyed thousands of working professionals in their 60s about their work life, and the results showed that those who had the ability to control their own workload were 34 per cent less likely to have died.  

Head researcher, Erik Gonazlez-Mule, had this to say about the results:  

‘‘These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision making.’’

‘’When you don’t have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff. You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it.’’

So, if you’re lucky enough to have a high-pressure job that also allows you to make your own decisions, get ready for a long and healthy life. 

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The pressures associated with today's career-driven society means your mental health can suffer, and caring for it can take a backseat as you attempt to make strides in your chosen field.

A recent study by the Institute of Directors found that only 14 per cent of businesses have a policy in place to help an employee who is suffering with mental health issues.

And to further that, staff using sick days for their mental health has risen by 25 percent over the past number of years.

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Work can be hella stressful, and even the best of us can be brought down by deadlines, bad reports, or simply, just a few bad days.

So, to help you when you're feeling a bit down, here are five steps to take to boost your mood and not let work get the better of you:

1. Take notes

Keep a work notebook and write down the various situations and tasks that make you feel the most stressed or give you anxiety. 

Recording your thoughts and seeing them on paper can be great for clearing your mind, and combating whatever issues you may have.

 

2. Create boundaries

With today's technology, it can seem like you're on the go 24/7. Even if a work email arrives in your inbox at 9pm, most people feel inclined to reply.

Establish some boundaries for yourself and make sure you switch off by a certain time each day. Relax your mind and forget about work.

 

3. Recharge

While a lot of Irish businesses don't have mental health guidelines in place, there's no issue with using your holiday days.

Plan to do some of your favourite activities on those days, and don't even think about work. By letting yourself recharge, you'll be more relaxed when stepping back into the workplace.

 

4. Have an open conversation

If work is really getting you down and you feel like it's making a negative impact on your mental health, talking to your boss/supervisor could be very beneficial.

Have an honest conversation about how your feeling, and clarify what might make things better. It might be scary to open up, but a weight will be lifted off your shoulders when you do.

 

5. Speak to a professional

If you feel like your mental health is on a downward spiral, help yourself by talking to a professional.

There are numerous websites, call lines and counselling services here in Ireland that can help you with any issues you might have.

You can check out Mental Health Ireland for a list of services or visit Grow to look at resources in your area.

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Remember, you are more important.

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We all have good and bad days in work – that's a given.

There are, however, some professions which really know how to bring it on the stress front.

From looming deadlines and inordinate demands to physical hazards and the risk of death, some career moves aren't for the fainthearted, and job opportunity website CareerCast has gotten busy compiling a list of the ten most stressful ones out there.

According to their survey, a round of applause is needed for anyone who is currently employed in any one of the following ten jobs.

10. Broadcaster

9. Taxi driver

8. Public relations executive

7. Corporate executive

6. Newspaper reporter

5. Event coordinator

4. Police officer

3. Airline pilot

2. Firefighter

1. Enlisted military personnel

Oh, and if we're giving props to those who have taken on any of the above, let's doff our caps to the lads and ladies who 'apparently' had the sense to choose a job which eventually made its way on to CareerCast's Least Stressful Jobs of 2017 list.

Take it away, lads…

10. Medical Laboratory Technician

9, Pharmacy Technician

8. Operations Research Analyst

7. Jeweller

6. Medical Records Technician

5. University Professor

4. Audiologist

3. Hair stylist

2. Compliance Officer

And the least stressful job for 2017?

1. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Hmmm… we're sure the good folk working these gigs will have something to say about that…

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Christmas shopping is stressful, but Christmas shopping just days before December 25 is a different experience entirely.

Unlike more organised festive shoppers, your desire to buy all around you has little to do with love for friends and family, and more to do with an all-encompassing need to tackle your entire list in one shop.

You may have pictured grabbing a coffee while enjoying the festive hustle and bustle, but in the lead-up to Christmas Day, you're more likely to grab a collar and fling an assuming randomer out of the way in order to get your hands on that final 3 for 2 offer.

And the following list is why next year is going to be different… very, very different.

1. Forgetting every single thing about your friends and family members which makes them unique.

"Will I get Dad a book? Does Dad like reading books? Wait, can Dad read?"

2.  Feeling like you're about to pass out from the sheer heat of an overcrowded, overheated cosmetic hall.

"Can I get this blush in a… sorry… I'm about to… you'll have to excuse me…"

3. Assuming that the deep crevices embedded in the palms of your hands from multiple shopping bags are officially here to stay.

"Well, nothing a good hand cream and Shellac job won't help disguise, right?"

4. Finding five gifts that would suit one friend, and no gifts that would suit the rest of the squad.

"Why can't Siobhan, Aisling and Ruth be more like Claire? Rude."

5. Reminding yourself that Christmas has become nothing more than an overblown commercial fest, and there's more to life than 3 for 2 offers.

"I can't believe they're putting me through this. I hate them all."

6. Wishing your boyfriend could be more like you because you've found 100 things that you'd love.

"He's pushing his luck, I'm serious."

Look, we know we got ourselves into this situation, but that doesn't help when we're stumbling into equally stressed and overloaded shoppers who, frankly, hate us just as much we hate them at that moment.

Thankfully, its4women and their Bag Butler have our backs on this one, and are currently assisting frazzled Christmas shoppers with their festive hauls.

From lugging our Christmas load to providing reassuring words of advice, the Bag Butler is man of the hour right now, and frankly we need all the help we can get.

Stand back ladies, there are just four shopping days left, and the Bag Butler can only assist one person at a time…

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Whether you're down because of the crappy weather, had an argument with your BFF or this time of year just isn't your fave, it's safe to say this season can bring on a whole range of emotions.

And while this won't cure your blues indefinitely, it will make you feel a little bit better.

According to the Journal of Positive Psychology, people who bake every now and again are much more relaxed compared to people who don't.

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The researchers followed 658 people for two weeks. Each participant had to write a diary, which was read by the researchers afterwards. They discovered that each person who baked or cooked at the end of most days felt that they were "flourishing," and advancing in their personal growth.

The study's lead author author, Tamlin Conner said: "There is growing recognition in psychology research that creativity is associated with emotional functioning.

"However, most of this work focuses on how emotions benefit or hamper creativity, not whether creativity benefits or hampers emotional well-being.

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"There is genuinely something very therapeutic about baking."

Whether you're going to take this on board or not, we have to admit, we'll be whipping up a few cupcakes next time we're feeling low.

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It's safe to say it's been a crazy week and whether you're stressed about your job, you BF, or just the world (ie. TRUMP), then we have the perfect thing for you: cat meditation.

We know, we know. It sounds stupid, but many of us struggle with anxiety and stress, and this is the puuurfect thing (sorry!) to put you back on track.

Blue Cross has created the first mindfulness online meditation class which stars adorable felines and experts from The Mindfulness Project.

The 10-minute class is available online and absolutely free, so you can use it to your peril for whenever you need to de-stress.

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The video aims to draw attention to how cats and kittens can put us in a good mood, and hopefully it'll help Blue Cross re-home it's adorable rescue cats.

Take a look and see if it calms you a little – just watch out for the purring (you'll know what we mean when you hear it)!

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