8 ways to de-stress during work

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A 2016 report called the Global [email protected] Survey, conducted by the brokering and solutions company Willis Towers Watson, collected responses from almost 1,700 employers in 34 countries and found that highly stressed employees lose twice as many days at work either because of absence or lack of presence throughout the workday. The report states that employees cite inadequate staffing, low pay and company culture as the top three causes of stress.

One in five Americans, according to the American Institute of Stress, say they experience extreme stress, characterized by shaking, heart palpitations and depression.

Under fluorescent office lights and tight deadlines, between family, friends and a 6 a.m. yoga class, stress seeps into all of our days. But stress and the fight-or-flight response it incites can have a lasting, negative effect on your personal health — job strains are linked to an increased risk of coronary disease, according to the American Psychological Association —
and on the bottom line of your company.

The Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security reports that “creating a psychologically healthy workplace is not just the right thing to do for employees; it’s also the smart thing to do for an organization’s financial well-being and productivity.”

You can’t be in control of all variables at work, but here are eight ways you can help combat stress during the workday.

1. Take a walk: Regular exercise reduces stress. According to a 2011 report from Harvard Health Publishing, exercise reduces adrenaline and cortisol, the chemicals our bodies release when we’re stressed.

2. Keep your desk clean: Clutter can affect your productivity. A research paper published in the The Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute suggests that having too many objects in our visual field at the same time cuts into productivity.

Stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40 percent, the risk of stroke by 50 percent and the risk of a heart attack by 25 percent, according to the American Institute of Stress.

3. Make a playlist: A UNR Counseling Services report suggests taking a “sound bath” by surrounding yourself with music for particular tasks. Creating playlists can help motivate you. For example, upbeat music can be energizing, while mellow music can be calming.

4. Remind yourself why: During the stress of day-to-day operations, it’s easy to forget why you work at your job. Mementos at your desk can help put things into perspective and remind you of your goals.

5. Buy a plant: Several studies correlate indoor plants with stress relief, removal of environmental toxins and a reduction in anxiety.

6. Breathe deep and stretch: The American Institute of Stress lists deep breathing as the best form of stress release, because “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.” Stretching can help release the tension that builds in your muscles when stressed. Practice progressive muscle relaxation, a method of tensing your body’s muscles and then releasing them as an alternative to stretching.

Forty percent of stressed-out people eat unhealthy foods or overeat, the AIS says.

7. Drink plenty of water and stock up on healthy snacks: Dehydration and hunger are physical stressors on the body. Keep water and snacks in your desk drawer to prevent these conditions.

8. Track your stressors: The American Psychological Association suggests writing down what stresses you throughout the workday and then evaluating your notes for a pattern before determining a solution. For example, if a major stressor is out-of-date software slowing you down, contact IT for the necessary updates.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.

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