Stress is difficult to define because it is such a looming emotion. This state of mental tension is an equal opportunity attacker and it can strike an employee at any level of a company to different degrees. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans experience extreme stress, including shaking, heart palpitations and depression, according to The American Institute of Stress. But even the most subtle representations of stress can have a severe impact on productivity.
It can be difficult to identify exactly what will act as that stress reliever for each individual in written form. However, there are a couple of tried and true methods that are sure to improve mood and reduce stress in just about anyone. Here are five that you can start implementing with relative ease!
1. Ease up on caffeine and sugar
For many people, guilty pleasures like a midday Coca-Cola or a snack from the vending machine somehow make it into the daily routine. A donut in the morning or mindlessly having 3 cups of coffee a day can actually be detrimental. Forty percent of stressed people eat unhealthy food or overeat per The American Institute of Stress.
"Engaging in an activity that takes your mind away from work will make you happier."
That doesn't mean you need to cut sugar and coffee out of your diet completely, but it's important to be aware if you are binging or even steadily consuming a small amount each day - it adds up! Try to lower your caffeine intake gradually and replace your sweet snack with something containing good sugars, like an apple. Lowering caffeine and sugar intake will help you stay focused and think clearly throughout the workday.
2. Work Out
It's widely known that working out releases endorphins, reduces stress and increases happiness, but there are some ways to get even more out of your work out. Working out in the morning is more effective for losing weight, while afternoon exercises are better for explosive workouts like kickboxing or racquetball.
Ultimately, you have to work out at the time that fits best with your body cycles and schedule, because no matter what time you choose, it's always better to spread it out throughout the week. Dr. Russell Pate, M.D. told The American Heart Association that the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked with the amount you do on a regular basis. That means finding a time in your schedule to consistently exercise is significantly better than hitting the gym only once a week for a long, strenuous work out, which will actually do more harm than good.
Taking time to do something that calms your mind and body is essential to lowering stress. Though meditation can sound like a daunting practice, especially to those who don't know what it is or how it works, it's not the only option that allows you to reap the benefits. Mayo Clinic promises that breathing exercises, yoga, mindfulness, prayer and tai chi all have similar relaxation effects. Practicing one of these daily will do wonders for your stress level and productivity.
4. Make time for hobbies and interests
Vacation from work is essential in managing stress, but it's not practical each and every week. Making time for your hobbies and interests can be almost like a mini vacation. Whether you take a painting class or coach your daughter's soccer team, engaging in an activity that takes your mind away from work and brings you enjoyment will make you happier, more inspired and ready for the next day.
5. Keep a Schedule
Getting enough sleep is perhaps the most crucial stress reliever, but it's also difficult to get sleep when you are stressed out. Going to sleep on a schedule helps your body function more smoothly. If your body expects to go to bed at 11pm because you do every night, it will respond. Going to sleep on a schedule also helps ensure you can keep your daily routine in order, and eating at the same time every day also has health benefits.
Productivity isn't always about just plowing through your workload. You have to make sure your mind is in the right place before anything else.These five steps are easy to implement with a little bit of discipline. As for your employees, some companies offer yoga classes, give stipends for gym memberships or pay for transcendental meditation certification (like Oprah!), but simply sharing the information above and promoting a healthy environment can help. We all need to give our brain time to recharge; it's how the best ideas are formed!