Around 94% of American workers reported experiencing stress in the workplace, reports Stress.org, with some of the causes including difficult bosses, ineffective company communication, job security, interpersonal issues, and difficulties in balancing one’s work and personal life. You may not be able to leave your job right now, or change your boss for a kinder, more communicative one, but there are certainly proactive steps you can take to battle work pressures and stress. Doing so will enable you to avoid specific health conditions and to achieve mental peace and tranquility.
The Health Impacts of Work Pressure
Those working in high-pressure jobs may have chronically high levels of (stress hormone) cortisol, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease (obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol), heart attacks and strokes, and Type 2 diabetes. High-pressure jobs can also put one’s mental health at risk, since they are strongly related to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Those who are stressed at work are also more likely to embrace unhealthy behaviors – including smoking, alcohol consumption, and substance abuse. Additional conditions and disorders linked to work pressure are musculoskeletal disorders, back pain, and IBS.
Sleep Should be Your Starting Point
If you work in a high-stress industry, one of the first steps to take is to give due importance to sleep. The CDC recommends that adults sleep for a minimum of seven hours per night, though quantity is just one part of the equation; equally important is sleep quality. The latter involves falling asleep quickly (within half an hour of getting into bed), awakening no more than once during the night, and falling back asleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up. Lack of sleep affects mood, concentration, and decision-making. Good sleep, on the contrary, can heal the body in mind. As found in a 2019 study by researchers at the University of California – Berkeley, deep sleep is particularly powerful when it comes to resetting the anxious brain and causing the heart rate and blood pressure to drop.
Embracing Natural Ways to Battle Stress
Scientific studies have shown that holistic activities (such as yoga, Tai Chi, and mindfulness meditation) are particularly powerful at reducing cortisol levels, improving focus, and enhancing the mood. Popular exercise workouts such as aerobics, swimming, cycling, and other aerobic (and strength) workouts can also help battle stress and promote better sleep. Finally, spending time in nature can be of great aid. A 2020 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that spending just 10 minutes in a green area can lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress. If you have a bit more time, try out the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku. This involves visiting a forestry or green area and opening all the senses – those of sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste – to the beauty of what surrounds you.
If you work in a high-pressure industry or setting, taking stress seriously is key if you are to avoid long-term physical and mental health consequences. For a start, you can take part in natural stress-busting activities such as yoga, known for their powerful ability to create a peaceful state of mind. Rest, exercise, and a bit of green or blue time can also help. If your symptoms continue, however, seek professional help. Conditions such anxiety and depression should be taken seriously so they can be diagnosed and treated early.
Interesting Related Article: “Work stress raises risk of developing some cancers“