It’s no secret that the workplace can be a pretty stressful place; we all have our little gripes during the working day, but now and again things can get overwhelming.
A recent study we conducted amongst 800 professionals has shown that many at all levels of the work spectrum are susceptible to heightened stress levels, with a staggering 66 per cent of those start-up entrepreneurs involved feeling their workload is unsustainable.
The age bracket most likely to be susceptible to stress is 35-54, with 39 per cent struggling. A half of intermediate professionals working in the public sector felt overworked.
Those running their own business and earning £128,000 to £132,000 were most likely to work a whole seven days a week – however, there were at least ten per cent of business owners working seven days a week in every income bracket.
So what can be done to avoid the prospect of full-blown professional burn out?
Don’t ever underestimate how much your stress levels are affected by food and drink. Eating badly on a regular basis means your stress levels can be highly elevated. Junk food is all very well for a treat, but a regular supply can develop a sugar dependency in your body.
Caffeine is a similar culprit. Chugging down coffee to prop you up on a stressful day may seem like a good idea at the time, but once that initial buzz winds down and you’re suffering the crash you’ll become a great deal more susceptible to stress.
High sugar foods such as chocolate and sweets are often chosen because they provide a quick happiness kick. However, when eaten in excess, insulin and blood sugar spikes again lead to energy crashes and cravings for more. Plus, like alcohol, high sugar foods increase the release of cortisol: a stress hormone.
According to research from the University of Maryland, maintaining a regular intake of vitamin B12 can maintain energy levels and help avoid fatigue.
It’s hard enough keeping on top of things when there’s plenty of work to do, but if your desk is a mess of papers and post-it notes, you’re asking to get stressed out. In the words of expert psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D: “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.”
Take the time out to organise your desk and your emails, so there’s no chance of you missing anything or forgetting about an important task.
Kicking the commute
When important meetings need to be held but the people required are unavailable, it’s certainly a cause for stress. In order to keep the course of business running smoothly, decisions need to be made quickly, and to make sure you’re all on the same page, some form of face to face meeting is essential.
To cut the stress of having to field emails and phone calls without adding travel time to meetings into the equation, in our opinion, you should look into video conferencing. Decisions can be made quicker and everyone remains on the same page.
Take a break from technology
If you work all day at a computer, you’ll need a well-deserved rest from technology once you get home. Try not to hook straight on to your home computer as soon as you’ve finished your dinner – read a book, or get some fresh air and go for a walk.
It seems silly, but banning yourself from using the internet at home during certain hours, according to the University of Gothenburg, will not only reduce your stress level, but you’ll find yourself doing the little jobs in the house which have needed to get done for the longest time. nWhen you’re at work, try not to eat at your desk.
Don’t react too quickly
When you’re stressed, it’s all too easy to send an email you regret. If there’s something making you stressed, be aware of the fact that you’re not quite your usual self. Think about that email.
Wait a while before sending a reply to any stressful messages, and don’t make any knee-jerk decisions – it’s these kinds of actions which could end up causing yet more stress.
If you don’t have clear goals, set them now. With something to work towards, you’ll be able to manage yourself more effectively and be more productive with your time.
Don’t ever leave things which can be done now till later, and work only with like-minded people who have the same drive as you.
Simon Prince is head of marketing at small business communications company Conference Genie.
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