If you’re like me, or pretty much anyone else on the planet, you’ve dealt with work-related stress in the past. It doesn’t matter what your field is. If you have a job, you will have work-related stress.
“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”
There’s dispute whether it was Confucius, Mark Twain, or Arthur Szathmary who first said that phrase. Regardless of who said it, I’m sure they didn’t have a job at the time. Even if you love your job, there will always be stress related to it. Uncomfortable situations or piles of work still exist whether you have your dream job or not. However, managing that stress is a step in the right direction towards that mythical “never work again” stage.
My initial issues involved stress and anxiety, but they weren’t quite related to stress. Either way, they landed me in rehab after a drug addiction.
In rehab, you learn a lot about the different kinds of drug relapse triggers. Guess which one is at the top of the list? Stress.
Some people go through stressful situations at work that make them go home and complain to their loved ones. I was once told by a rehab physician that if I hadn’t walked through their door, I would have had around 2 months of life left in me. So, yes, my stress almost killed me.
The importance of why I’m talking about rehab is because I was taught to manage my triggers while I was there. Not only that, but I learned to focus on my diet, exercise more, develop hobbies and take time off. All of which can be applied to the workplace to manage stress. Here’s how:
1. Manage Your Triggers
Triggers are one of the most important aspects of managing stress and anxiety. If you handle your triggers, you handle your stress. If you handle your stress, you don’t quit your job. Simple, right?
The hard part is identifying those triggers. Once you’ve written out a list, make another list which would serve as the solution to those triggers. For example, Mary’s breath smells like stale coffee and it makes you anxious when she tells you about tomorrow’s deadlines. That is the trigger. The solution would be to ask her to send important info in an e-mail. It’s simple, and you don’t have to tell her to brush her teeth every day.
I have entire posters of my triggers and their solutions, to remind myself how to deal with them.
2. Eat Healthier
The nutrition expert at my rehab center once said to me, “Eat crap, feel crap, honey.” I can’t help but agree with that statement. Her class was dedicated to teaching us about the benefits of a healthy diet. If you don’t balance out your diet and only eat foods which contain high sugar, high fat, or high or high carbs, then you will be left bloated, sleepy and unhappy.
Our bodies need vitamins, minerals and amino acids just as much as they need water. You will never function properly if you deprive your body of the fuel it needs to complete a full day. There are even foods that are proven to fight stress (chocolate and ice cream not included).
One warning: do not skip meals. That’s a recipe for headaches, irritability and lack of energy. At work, those are tough to deal with.
3. Sufficient Exercise
Do you really need to be reminded of the benefits of exercise for fighting stress? Well, all right. It increases your self confidence, makes you feel healthier, lowers stress levels, produces endorphins which make you feel happy, and the list goes on.
A general goal is to spend an average of 30 minutes per day exercising. Even if you’re not capable of doing that, hitting that mark every other day will still have a profound effect on your body. How many half-hours per day do you spend bent over your cell phone?
Get productive, turn on some music and start moving those hips.
4. Get Some Hobbies
Get a hobby. I’m not saying that in an insulting way, I really mean it. Our work days can be so packed sometimes that it’s nice to take a break. With a hobby, you can maintain productivity while doing something you enjoy. In fact, it was practically a requirement for us when leaving rehab.
Hobbies have been proven to reduce stress. If you don’t have an outlet for your stress, then you’ll be left with all of it bottled up inside. You don’t have to be a yoga freak to have a hobby which calms you. Reading, dancing and playing video games count!
5. Take Time Off
Can you believe that in 2016, more than half of Americans didn’t take their full vacation days? We’re not talking about asking your boss for an extra weekend, we mean paid vacation that workers are entitled to.
Vacation time is important because you get to unwind with your family and friends. If you’d rather not be with the two aforementioned groups, then you can take a trip alone! Even though it might sound stressful due to planning and organization, travel actually relieves stress.
I spent a good couple months traveling after I got out of rehab, and I never regretted a single penny I spent on it. Travel teaches you things that no educational institution ever will.
There you have it. Those are some of the ways I fought of stress after leaving rehab. You might be thinking, but I don’t need to worry about relapse, I’m not an addict. The fact is that I applied the very same rules I learned from my recovery in my future jobs afterward, and they worked. I’m now a successful thirty-something digital marketing entrepreneur, with a different outlook on life. Above all, I’m now practically stress-free.
Do you have any tips that have helped you fight stress in the workplace? Let me know in the comments!