What habits should you form early in your career to prevent stress at work?

What habits should you form early in your career to prevent stress at work?

While work can be a source or stress of frustration, resilience can help turn a negative into a positive

Stress is a growing epidemic in Britain. High pressure workplace environments, long working hours and the increased use of mobile devices can make it difficult for people to switch off. While a certain amount of pressure can be good for us – helping to motivate and get things done – excessive levels can cause our mind and body to pay the price

Our own research found that 35% of employees feel stressed very regularly at work, with a mere 6% revealing they never feel stressed. These are harrowing statistics and demonstrate the scale of the issue at hand.

How does stress affect us?

Stress causes our adrenal glands to produce more of the hormone cortisol – and too much of it in our system puts us at an increased risk of weakened cognitive performance, heart disease and high blood pressure. So, while a certain amount of stress may be part of modern life, and something we have come to accept as normal, it’s important to keep an eye out for the early warning signs. These include; feeling short tempered, overwhelmed or anxious; disrupted sleep patterns; finding it hard to relax; not wanting to socialise often; and eating more or less than normal.

Your everyday habits will have a long-term impact on your health and career so it’s important you form healthy habits to help tackle and manage your stress as early as possible. So what’s the solution? First, it’s important to acknowledge that in this day and age it’s impossible to avoid stress altogether. And setbacks in the workplace – whether minor upsets or more serious shake-ups – affect us all. How you react to stressful events will make the difference and that’s where resilience comes in.

Being resilient means you have a capacity to recognise and manage stress, enabling you to cope with setbacks. It’s not a quality that you either do or don’t possess and there are varying degrees of how well a person is able to handle stress. The good news is that you can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude. You can nurture resilience in several ways; therefore it’s a great skill to adopt early in your career. Below, are a few simple yet effective ways to help build your resilience.

Boost your wellbeing

Taking care of your physical and mental health is the first – and arguably most important step towards building your resilience. Exercising regularly is a great way to achieve this. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week.

It’s also essential to try to eat as healthily as possible. A balanced and varied diet provides your body and mind with the nutrition it needs to function effectively. What you eat can make a big difference to your emotional resilience and certain foods have been shown to have an effect on the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. For example, dark chocolate can ease your stress levels and even boost your brain power. It’s also important to remember to hydrate steadily through the day to maintain optimum performance. Having around 6 to 8 glasses each day enables you to avoid dehydration.

Develop a positive mindset

The way you think can have a dramatic effect on your ability to cope with stress. Practise being positive whenever you face a setback, and try to look for learning opportunities in every situation – the more you practise thinking positively, the faster it will start to come naturally. Treat mistakes as experiences you can learn from, this will enable you to develop and grow in your role.

Why not start writing down 3 things at the end of each day that went well, or that you’re grateful for. This should help you to look at your situation in a more positive light.

Utilise time management techniques

The importance of managing your time is a critical component to career success. It also helps to reduce stress, whilst boosting efficiency and productivity. It may sound obvious, but if you have a lot of things to do, start each day by writing a to-do list. Why not try using post-it notes and writing down each task you have to complete on a separate note. As you finish each task, you can throw away the post-it, giving you a sense of achievement.

For those who prefer to manage their workload digitally, there are free tools available such as Trello and Asana.  It’s also important to be realistic in how much you can get done in one day. Writing a list that you’ll simply never get through can be demotivating. Implementing and building on this habit will be very beneficial throughout your career as you take on more responsibility.

Keep things in perspective

When something doesn’t go well at work, try to ask yourself how important the outcome will be tomorrow or in a week, a month or a year. Focus on what you’ve learnt from the experience. Negative events may seem overwhelming at the time, but realising they don’t have any impact in the long-term can really help you to manage your stress and develop a resilient outlook.

Whilst work can be a source of stress or frustration, resilience can help turn a negative into a positive. Using mistakes as learning opportunities, coupled with looking after yourself to encourage a positive mind set can make a real difference – not only to your professional life but your personal one too.

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