Always on and checking emails even when you are off work? Stress can ruin your health and now is the time to pull the plug. A change in routines and regular meditation can help you beat stress before it beats you.
Stress is a concern for all who work long hours, have many balls in the air and bring their worries into the bedroom. A recent report, Psychosocial risks in Europe, states that one quarter of the European workforce risk health issues due to work related stress.
Modern technology is a blessing, but also a curse if not managed properly. With the smartphone at hand and easy access, we often feel the need – or even an obligation – to check our emails, even when we are not at work.
A messed up work-life balance is a challenge for many career-minded people, who feel guilty about switching off when leaving the office. Managers are particularly bad at pulling the plug and this not only leads to stress, but also squeezes out time for exercise and social life according to a study made by CMI and Work Psychology Group in the UK.
Kasper Nesager-Hansen, co-founder of Trisendi, the Danish company behind the TakeTime meditation app, has personally dealt with the issue of work related stress on several occasions:
“As a serial-entrepreneur, I have often found it very difficult to let go of my work, which has not been good for my health. I’ve become better at pulling the plug and letting go of my responsibilities, but this has only happened because I have listened to doctors, stress specialists and the experiences from people in my network – and developed new routines”, says Kasper Nesager-Hansen. Breaking a routine can be quite tricky, especially when you don’t know how to do it. And changes don’t come overnight – according to research made by European Journal of Social Psychology, it usually takes 66 days to develop new routines. It is all about focus and taking small steps every day.
Based on his personal experience as well as a degree in healthcare, Kasper Nesager-Hansen offers you his 9 top tips to relieve stress:
1. Don’t bring your concerns into the bedroom
You need a good night’s sleep. If you worry about the family budget or work, the body will release adrenalin and cortisol, which is a stress hormone that prepares the body for action, and you don’t get to sleep very well. Clear your mind by letting go of daily concerns before you decide to go to bed.
2. Exercise at least a couple of times a week
When you exercise, you increase your heartrate and blood flow while reducing the cortisol in your blood – and endorphins are released by the brain. You not only reduce stress, but feel better after a good and sweaty training. Remember, the body was designed for movement.
3. Check your emails at specific times every day
One thing that can really wear people out is checking emails constantly while focusing on other tasks. Work out an email routine. You could check them when you sign in at the office, then after lunch and again at the end of the day – that’s it. Few emails are so important that they can’t wait a few hours – or until the morning after.
4. Turn off the ringtone on your phone when you’re off work
Pling. We all know the sound of an email ticking in late at night. It arouses our curiosity – and we stop relaxing. The time should be spent on restitution, not work.
5. Tell yourself that it is okay to be unavailable
It is okay to pull the plug and spend time with your family and friends – or even by yourself. Unless there’s a crisis at the office or something urgent has come up, tell yourself it is okay to forget about work. Before the internet and smartphones, people actually worked from nine till five. Sure, you may impress your boss or your clients by being always on, but then they may develop the habit of expecting you to deliver 24/7 – a high-way to stress. Impress people during regular office hours instead – they will understand.
6. Have a real lunch break at least a couple of times a week
Eating in front of your computer and catching up on work while chewing on a sandwich? Get out of the office for just 15 minutes every day for lunch and eat your food away from your work station. According to a study made by the Humboldt University in Berlin, eating behind your desk makes you more stressed and less creative.
7. Ease up on coffee and alcohol
While drinking coffee to keep you going at work or “relaxing” with a glass of wine every night is great, you should bear in mind that coffee and alcohol raises cortisol. You don’t have to quit your morning coffee, but perhaps instead of five cups every day, you could settle for three. And alcohol could be reserved for the weekends. This way you will not only reduce the level of cortisol on a daily basis, you will also be able to sleep better.
8. Eat healthy foods regularly
Stress can be induced by consuming certain food types like coffee, junk food and soft drinks. Although convenient and tasty, carbon dioxide in soft drinks, caffeine in coffee and tea along with sugar in junk food increase cortisol in your body – thus, increase stress. You don’t have to avoid these food types entirely, but if you want to decrease stress, you should eat more fish, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and drink more water.
Sit down and do nothing. Whether you are using a meditation app such as TakeTime or are sitting in a lotus position with your eyes closed, it is all about letting go of the world around you. Meditation helps you reduce the cortisol in your body and relaxes your mind. If you meditate 20 minutes a few times a week, you can feel that you have more energy, become less irritated and you can become better at handling challenges on the job and in life in general.
Tips provided by Take Time app.