A certain level of stress is normal in any job or school situation, but over-stressing to the point of anxiety can reduce focus and leave you feeling deflated by the end of the day.
Here are some tips to identify the causes of stress at work or college, and to help eliminate them.
1. Know your limits
If you’re feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, getting headaches or having concentration issues, you may be over-stressed. Know how to recognise this feeling so that you can work on reducing tension.
2. Take care of yourself
If you know a busy week is coming up, make an extra effort to ensure your physical and mental health don’t suffer as a result. Try to fit in some exercise before or after work – even if it just means getting off the bus a few stops early or taking the dog for a quick walk. The fresh air will clear your head and help you take a step back from the troubles of the day.
3. Talk…and laugh!
If you’re really feeling worn out by work or college, talk to someone – be it a friend, co-worker or family member. A quick phone call on the way home or a chat in the office kitchen can make all the difference and can really put things in perspective. Don’t underestimate the power of a good laugh for diffusing stress and tension either! Watch that silly YouTube video your mate sent you earlier, or take a few minutes to have a giggle with them about last night’s Great British Bake Off – whatever it takes to get you smiling.
4. Prioritise and organise
There are going to be days when your to-do list is endless and it seems like you’ll never get through it all. Rather than getting overwhelmed, try to separate the “should do today” items from the “must do today” items. It’s better to at least get the most important tasks done well, instead of attempting to do everything to half measures.
5. Know how to calm your mind
Pick one thing you can rely on to calm yourself down in times of high stress. A quick walk, a favourite song or a series of deep breaths are all good options for diffusing stress. Try this “cooling breath” method for a quick stress reliever: suck in air through your mouth as if drinking through a straw, then breathe out through your nose. Repeat at least five times. The blast of cold air on your tongue will in turn slightly cool down your body, reducing some of that hot-headedness.
6. Take regular breaks from your screen
Staring at a computer or laptop all day can place huge strain on the eyes, making you feel more tired than you are. It might not be feasible for you to take a break from the computer every 45 minutes as is recommended, but at least give your eyes a rest by either closing them or focusing them on something in the distance, for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Above all, never work yourself so far beyond your limits that you begin to feel miserable. Holidays and weekends are there for a reason – make sure you’re getting a good work-life balance and don’t be afraid to take a step back every now and then. As the book title goes – don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff)!