Tips to beat stress at work

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Offering useful advice on how to beat stress at work is a tough challenge because stress is as personal as it is widespread.

How you experience stress at work will depend on your personality, your genes - and of course, your job. But no-one wants you to be stressed, even your demanding boss (believe it or not).

From feeling sick and dizzy, to muscle cramps and insomnia, stress at work can really take its toll on your body. Mind, the mental health charity, has a full list of symptoms on its website. If you find yourself ticking more than one, you may decide that it's time to do something about it.

Thankfully, reducing your anxiety doesn't have to mean starting a huge ‘stress-busting' regime - such as a new exercise programme, or other fixed commitment - on top of your already busy working day.

It may just involve shedding some of the demanding brain-clutter and unnecessary decisions you make during the day, which can also take their toll on your energy levels.

Whatever steps you decide to take, it's worth remembering that the debilitating effects of stress will be noticeable in your day-to-day health. So for the sake of your own wellbeing, that of those around you, and even for the cost of your life cover or life insurance quotation - it's time to address the stress.

Work smarter, not harder

Feel overwhelmed with the amount of work you have on your plate? Try these time management techniques from the Mayo Clinic, who believe that forward planning is a great way to reduce stress at work.

They suggest you plan each day, prioritise tasks, break large projects into manageable chunks and delegate as much as you can. They also say you should limit distractions when working on a difficult task, so block out time in your calendar, switch off your phone and turn off your email.

Be sociable - but not too sociable

New Scientist magazine found that being sociable at work is a great antidote to stress. A survey of thousands of civil servants found that high levels of moral support from colleagues and encouragement from bosses had a huge effect on how stressed they felt.

On the flipside, however, too much socialising could be a bad thing. The same article found that answering personal emails and phone calls could lead to work piling up, sending stress levels soaring again.

Take a deep breath

While yoga is said to be a great way to relieve tension, your boss may not take too kindly to you doing a downward dog by the water cooler. Breathing exercises, however, can be done pretty much anywhere and take no time at all, providing instant rejuvenation in a matter of minutes, no caffeine or sugar required!

If you feel yourself getting anxious, being aware of your breathing, its depth and regularity, can have an instant calming effect on body and mind. Even a quick stretch at your desk, remembering to loosen your poor knotted shoulders and unclench your jaw, can be beneficial.

Keep things in perspective

Stress at work can really become all-consuming. To get things in perspective, try talking to a sympathetic co-worker or a trusted friend about any issues you're facing.

It can also be a great help to get an absorbing hobby that you really enjoy to have as an outlet outside of work, so dig out your bike from the garage, take up cookery or go to a dance class.

If all else fails, get philosophical

According to research by internet job finder CareerCast (quoted in the Daily Mail, April 2011), 70 per cent of all employees say that work is the main cause of their stress. An obvious answer to this would be a change of career, but which job should you pick?

One thing's for sure, don't take to the skies - the survey found that being an airline pilots is the world's most stressful job. Instead, try to retrain as an audiologist, dietician - or even as a philosopher! The same survey found that these professionals were the least anxious.

Issued by Sainsbury's Bank

Information correct at time of publication. This may be subject to change. All opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and not Sainsbury's Bank plc or the Sainsbury's Group of Companies.

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