Unless you lead an incredibly zen life, chances are that you’re dealing with stressful situations every day of the week, especially at work. Yes, even if you’re madly in love with your social media manager position. It may boil down to having a tight schedule or simply struggling with an unreasonable client, but whatever the cause may be, the stress has a tendency to weasel into your every pore. It affects the office mood, makes you want to play hooky on any given Wednesday, and you start feeling exhausted constantly.
The simple truth is, you are not alone, far from it. This stress-burdened work atmosphere has become an epidemic of sorts, plaguing any environment, from a tech startup all the way to your nearby wellness center – ironic, isn’t it? However, chasing the vague idea of absolute control seems to have little to no effect on your stressful life, but the answer might lie in seeking boundaries rather than elusive balance.
This is one of those situations where the old adage “we’re all different” rings truer than we’d like to. If there was a single, foreseeable pattern of annoyances we could simply predict and prevent, we wouldn’t feel this amount of stress, to begin with, let alone allow it to develop into a culture. That is why you’ll need to gain a deeper understanding of what causes you to feel stressed.
Some people find tight deadlines difficult to manage, even though they don’t mind the workload, while others are on the opposite end of the spectrum and struggle with too much on their plate. Perhaps you’d prefer working early in the mornings or moving your coffee break for an hour or two. You can even make notes on a daily basis for a week to see what makes you tick and what makes you fuss and start handling one cause at a time.
We’ve all heard one too many times that stress is the culprit behind so many illnesses, or that it at least greatly contributes to their development. From heart disease, skin conditions, such as eczema, all the way to depression and anxiety, the list is getting longer every day as we learn more about the effects of stress. Some of the first signals you might feel from being overwhelmed with tension at work include insomnia, exhaustion, overall lack of energy, muscle soreness, and the like.
While these symptoms used to be perceived as consequences of adrenal fatigue, some of the recent research shows that while these symptoms may be as real as their cause (stress), they might not indicate a lack of cortisol production. On the contrary, our bodies tend to produce more of this pesky hormone when we’re under stress, so it’s essential to keep those triggers in check and do our best to stay healthy. That may mean ditching unhealthy snacks as your mid-day pick-me-up or introducing an extra hour on the treadmill, but it sure will help you become more resilient to stress altogether.
In addition to taking excellent care of your body, which will inadvertently mean you’ll contribute to your overall wellbeing, you should consider taking certain steps to boost your inner zen, too. Mindful meditation has shown great potential in achieving greater control, not of the situation, but of your reaction to it. It’s a great way to help you relax and be in the moment, even in stressful situations.
Other methods can be as simple as breathing exercises or taking a stroll in the park to clear your head for half an hour. These and other activities close to your heart help you take a break from the hectic pace of your everyday life, and reboot in a way that preps you for the upcoming difficulties. They may not prevent the stress from occurring, but they will help you detach yourself from it when you need it most.
Creating literal, both digital and physical boundaries is often the best remedy for healing your stressed soul. Since you most likely do business via your phone, computer and other gadgets, you will most likely feel instantly better even if you just take some time off from their over-usage. That means not opening emails after work hours, turning off notifications during lunch, and putting your phone away when you’re having dinner with your family.
You might find it more difficult to enforce this mindset while you’re at the office, but spending time not working during your lunch break or coffee break will actually make you more productive later on. These breaks give your brain a chance to rest and recuperate, so do single-task whenever you can, and especially when it’s time to take five.
Since life is in a constant state of flux, assuming we can gain complete control and set fixed boundaries on anything, our work life included, would be a sign of poor judgment, to say the least. Of course, practicing mindfulness, doing our best to stay healthy, and creating a clear schedule of our responsibilities are all a significant part of the plan.
However, accepting change as an inevitability is perhaps the most difficult and the most important step we should take in order to create boundaries. Embrace the fact that they need to be fluid, and that they will move on occasion. Create them so that you can have the freedom to alter your routine and still remain in better control of your stress levels. Those boundaries will definitely help you achieve a much better work-life harmony.