Stress from being always on or constantly having to think about e-mails can ruin your health. It is okay to pull the plug. A change in routines along with meditation can be the way to let go.
Stress is a very real and present concern for those of us, who work long hours, have many balls in the air and bring their worries into the bedroom. Stress is an epidemic. All across Germany, the UK and the rest of Europe. A recent report, Psychosocial risks in Europe, stated that one quarter of the European workforce risk health issues due to work related stress.
How often do we spend our free time thinking about work or worrying about what goes on at the office? Modern technology is a blessing, but also a curse if not managed properly. How many of us feel the need to check our e-mails during our free time? Are we obligated to check our phones for work-related messages even when we relax with the glass of wine or when we meet with friends at the café? The phenomenon of being always on has messed with our work-life-balance. This is a challenge for some career-minded people, who feel guilty for switching off when leaving the office. Managers are particularly bad at switching off and this not only leads to stress, but also squeezes out time for exercise and social life according to a study made by CMI and Work Psychology Group in the UK.
So what’s the solution?
Should we work fewer hours? Will it help to sit in a drum circle and sing happy song? There’s no quick and easy fix when it comes to stress. No miracle cure that make the effects of stress go away instantaneously. Getting rid of stress starts with you; your ability to focus and let go.
Personally, I often found it difficult to let go, which of course isn’t good for my health. I’ve become better at signing out and letting go of my responsibilities after 6 PM, but this has only happened because I listened to some the words of wisdom from doctors, stress specialists and the experiences in my network – and developed new routines. I would like to share that knowledge with you, but please remember that changes don’t come over night. According to research made by European Journal of Social Psychology, it usually takes 66 days to develop new routines.
If you have difficulties letting go of work, just remember the good old days – before the internet and smartphones. We actually had time to focus on something else besides work. What did we do with our free time back then? Here’s 9 the tips I try to live by in order to avoid stress:
1. Don’t bring your concerns into the bedroom
You need a good night’s sleep. If you worry about the family budget or work, the body will release adrenalin and cortisol, which is a stress hormone that prepares the body for action, and you don’t get to sleep very well. Clear your mind by letting go of daily concerns before you decide to go to bed.
2. Exercise at least a couple of times a week
When you exercise, you increase your heartrate and blood flow while reducing the cortisol in your blood – and endorphins are released by the brain. You not only reduce stress, but feel better after a good and sweaty training. Remember, the body was designed for movement.
3. Check your e-mail at specific times every day
One thing that can really wear people out is having to check e-mails constantly while focusing on other tasks. Work out an e-mail routine. You could check your e-mails once when you sign in at the office, then after lunch and at the end of the day – that’s it! Few e-mails are that important that they can’t wait a few hours – or until the morning after.
4. Turn off the ringtone on your phone when you’re off work
Pling! We all know the sound of an e-mail ticking in late at night. It arouses our curiosity – and we stop relaxing. The time should be spent on restitution, not work.
5. Tell yourself that it is okay to be unavailable!
It is okay to pull the plug and spend time with your family and friends – you don’t have to be on all the time! Unless there’s a crisis at the office or something urgent has come up, tell yourself it is okay to forget about work. Before the internet and smartphones, people actually worked from nine till five. Sure, you may impress your boss or your clients by being always on, but then they may develop the habit of expecting you to deliver 24/7 – a high-way to stress. Impress people during regular office hours instead – they will understand.
6. Have a real lunch break at least a couple of times a week
Eating in front of your computer? Catching up on work while chewing on a sandwich? Get out of the office for just 15 minutes every day for lunch and eat your food away from your work station. According to a study made by the Humboldt University in Berlin, eating behind your desk makes you more stressed and less creative. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to have a real lunch break, Stylist Magazine has some ideas.
7. Ease up on coffee and alcohol
While drinking coffee to keep you going at work or “relaxing” with a glass of wine every night is great, you should bear in mind that coffee and alcohol raises cortisol. You don’t have to quit your morning coffee, but perhaps instead of five cups every day, you could settle for two? And alcohol could be reserved for the weekends? This way you will not only reduce the level of cortisol on a daily basis. You will also be able to sleep better.
8. Eat healthy foods – just a few times a week
Stress can be induced by consuming certain food types like coffee, junk food and soft drinks. Although convenient and tasty, carbon dioxide in soft drinks, caffeine in coffee and tea along with sugar in junk food increase cortisol in your body – thus, increase stress. You don’t have to avoid these food types entirely, but if you want to decrease stress, you should eat more fish, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and drink more water.
Sit down and do nothing. Whether you experience the Relax theme in the TakeTime app or sit in a lotus position with your eyes closed, it is all about letting go of the world around you. Meditation helps you reduce the cortisol in your body and relaxes your mind. If you meditate 20 minutes a few times a week, you can feel that you have more energy, become less irritated and you can become better at handling challenges on the job.
#reclaimyourlunchbreak, #stress, #meditation
Co-Founder and Managing Partner