The holidays are over, winter is on its way and our workloads are building up once again. Surely this can only mean one thing?

Stress.

Workplace stress has been forever on the up-rise and with stress comes a whole wealth of other problems: erratic behaviour, emotional breakdowns and most importantly, ill health. If we are to lead happy, healthy and successful lives, it is in all of our best interests to try and minimise our own personal workplace stress as much as possible – and of course, it is a primary concern of many businesses to keep its employees fully functioning to ensure it has continued success!

But is stress all bad?

Research has shown that stress can, in fact, be good for our performance, but only up until a certain point. So what is the point in getting ourselves all worked up to an unhealthy level if it’s only going to hinder our performance at work – surely that’s just counterproductive?

Why are you stressed?

So, you’re sitting at your desk biting your nails and pulling your hair out as you cripple under the pressure of your workload, yet your colleague next to you seems right as rain without a care in the world. HOW, you wonder, is it possible for them to remain so calm? After all, you both have similar deadlines to meet and they have just as much work to complete as you do.

Have you ever considered that you might be perceiving a stressor differently to your colleague?

Two psychologists (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) have proposed a theory which suggests that stress is all down to our perceptions of a stressor, rather than the stressor itself. If we perceive something to be stressful and we perceive that we are unable to deal with the stressor, then we are likely to become more stressed than our fellow employees.

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So how do you cope with stress?

How we cope with our stress is probably the most important facet of the equation. Do you bury your head in the sand every time you are faced with a problem? Or do you take a more proactive approach and try to tackle your problems head on?

Different coping styles are linked to different behaviours when it comes to dealing with stress, with problem-focused coping notably is being the most effective approach, especially when you have control over the problem. So the next time you are faced with a problem at work, why not make a list of practical solutions and decide on a course of action to help achieve this?

How can you change your perception of stress and combat it once and for all?

Here at Masterclass, we have come up with a few helpful tips to guide you through those stressful moments!

S – STOP. Overanalysing and over complicating things. Assess the problem in front of you at face value. You are in control, you can do this and things will work out. Even though it might not seem this simple at the time, you’ve got to think rationally and tell yourself that the stressor will only be as bad as you make it out to be.

T – TRY.  To think positively and take a proactive approach. You were hired because you are more than capable of doing your job, so whatever task, it is that you’re worrying about, it’s well within your abilities. Also, if you are stressed about something at work, why not talk to someone about it to see whether they can help you? They don’t call it talking therapy for nothing!

R – RELAX.  When you finish work for the day, finish work for the day. A lot of workers take their workload home with them, whether that be physically or mentally. This can cause undue stress and trouble sleeping, as it prevents our brains from shutting off from the world at night. So when you’re tired from your lack of sleep, the last thing you’re going to want to do is go into work, right? So keep your evenings to yourself – you’ll probably find that you’ll get more work done the following day after you’ve allowed yourself to unwind a little bit. Also, make the most of your weekends, do something that you enjoy doing, see your friends and give yourself a chance to relax; this will help you to think more positively about the week ahead of you.

E – EAT HEALTHILY. There has been an abundance of research into the relationship between stress and eating. Some stressors can make us eat more, whereas others can make us eat less. But most importantly, stress can impact our decisions about the type of food we eat. Have you ever been so stressed from a hectic day at work that you’ve just gone home and grabbed every single sugary item you could lay your eyes on? Or maybe, you’ve just delved straight into a mountain full of fatty, carby goodness? I am definitely guilty of this, that’s for sure. But does this actually make us feel any better? Definitely not.

They say a healthy body equals a healthy mind and our food choices can strongly impact our mood and our levels of productivity. Eating a lot of sugar is just going to give us that dreaded drop in energy as soon as our blood sugar levels plummet, whereas those fatty, heavy carbs are just going to make us feel sluggish and even less capable of tackling our problems. Try and eat a balanced diet, you’d be surprised at how much of a difference this can make! Blueberries have also been found to help reduce our cortisol levels (the stress hormone!), so why not try and substitute those unhealthy snacks for a handful of these? It can’t hurt to increase your fruit and vegetable intake!

S- SPORT AND EXERCISE. Exercise is a great way to release those pent up feelings of stress and anxiety and of course, it is extremely good for us. What better way to beat those stressful thoughts than to experience an influx of happy hormones!?

S – SAY GOODBYE TO STRESS. It’s not worth it and it’s not doing you any favours. Try to wake up every day and embrace the stressors that you face as a challenge waiting to be tackled. If you feel like something is beyond your control, try to take control and think about the positives. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve – and remember, stress won’t change the outcome… so why put yourself through the emotional turmoil!

To find out your coping style, try this free online test: http://bit.ly/1pq3d53

Author: Megan Lazenby, Online Marketing, Masterclass Training Ltd