With the inevitable juggling of different responsibilities as an American adult, it is incredibly common for individuals to feel the effects of stress. In fact, 3 out of 4 Americans report experiencing stress in their daily life, including about 4 out of 10 who report that they experience stress “frequently” (Gallup, 2007). Needless to say, stress is an everyday part of the American life; April is Stress Awareness Month. As employers your employee stress should always be on the radar.
Although stress is common, it can have many detrimental effects if it is not properly dealt with – for employees that means lost productivity and maybe even lower morale. Stress can have psychological implications as it has the potential to lead to irritability and depression. In addition, stress can affect people physical as well, as it may cause issues such as headaches, sleeplessness, and digestive issues when not properly taken care of. Additionally, chronic stress can increase individuals’ susceptibility to viral infections such as the flu or common cold. Thus, as stress has the ability to have many negative effects, it is vital to become familiar with techniques to reduce everyday stress.
There are many things that one can do to reduce stress levels. For example, exercising is an excellent way to combat stress. Physical fitness increases the flow of endorphins, which is the body’s natural pain and stress fighters. In fact, people who exercise at least two days a week are happier and have significantly less stress than those who do not work out. (Rath and Harter, 2010). Just a short 20 minute workout a day can enhance one’s mood and decrease stress levels significantly.
In addition to exercise, it is also great practice to learn some relaxation techniques to decrease stress levels. Some ways to foster relaxation are to take up a yoga class, practice meditation, listen to music, or get a massage. In a study by Harfiel and colleagues (2010), results demonstrated that individuals who practiced yoga just once a week for six weeks felt many benefits such as having more energy, experiencing feelings of greater self-confidence during stressful situations, and having feelings of clear-mindedness.
A Medline Plus article (2010) explains that eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can assist in stress management. This is important, as choosing balanced meals will fuel our brain chemicals in order to keep our bodies balanced during times of stress. Thus, it is important to choose meals that are rich in nutrients, such as complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
All in all, be sure that making a conscious effort to reduce stress levels, be it for yourself or your employees, is a necessity. Luckily, there are many things that you can do in order to combat daily stress you can do to promote stress management at the office. Choose what techniques work for you as you make an effort to take the time for yourself to remove the stress buildup in your own life.
Stephanie is an intern at Sodexo for toLive and is currently studying psychology at Bradley University.