Back in the post-Industrial Revolution era, when the idea of a 40-hour workweek started gaining traction, people thought that it allowed for a proper balance: eight hours each for work, recreation, and sleep. Today, people are not only seeking to escape the daily 9-to-5, but it’s also a common complaint that eight hours of work can feel like far more. For many of us, working can lead to elevated levels of stress regularly, and this makes it feel like our job takes up every hour of each day. If that sounds like a problem you’ve encountered, here’s how you can get a handle on that stress in your life.
Recognize the symptoms and confirm
Before you need air-conditioning or hydraulic machinery repair services, you can usually find visual indicators of stress or damage in mechanical systems. Similarly, people who experience severe or prolonged stress are also likely to exhibit recognizable symptoms. Physical symptoms may include muscular pains, particularly around the neck and shoulders; headaches, nausea, diarrhea, or indigestion; and a general sensation of fatigue. Behavioral symptoms can manifest as increased irritability or anxiety, a change in eating or sleeping habits, and the inability to maintain focus.
These symptoms are, however, not unique to stress, as they may be caused by other disorders. You’ll need to confirm the cause by relating them to specific factors. If approaching deadlines at work, for example, trigger these symptoms, you’re likely suffering from heightened work-related stress.
Explore techniques for stress management
Once you’ve confirmed that your symptoms are related to elevated stress, it’s natural to want to make them go away. However, stress is simply our bodies’ response to challenging situations; sometimes, you can’t make the root of the problem go away so easily—not everyone would be able to simply quit their job, for example.
In practice, a more feasible solution in the short term would be trying out different techniques for stress management. You could try to improve daily planning and manage your time better to make room for some fun and relaxation; or learn specific methods of relaxing, such as deep breathing. Simply reframing a situation can help you take a more positive approach, which will reduce the stress response to manageable levels.
Eliminate stressors in the long term
The immediate practicalities of your situation may not allow you to reduce stress by getting rid of the source. Yet, in the interest of maintaining reasonable long-term levels of health and well-being, you can begin to implement methods of streamlining your daily life, reducing unnecessary commitments and instances where multitasking is required.
Becoming more organized and developing a system of getting things done, as well as kicking the bad habits of procrastination or getting up late each day, are simple yet essential steps to eliminate stressors.
You can also start to incorporate positive practices into your everyday routines; following a healthy diet and committing to regular exercise is beneficial in their own right, and it also helps reduce long-term stress.
Finally, you could manage to avoid the burdens of work-related stress by gradually preparing yourself for a change of pace, scenery, or career and supplement your income with passive revenue streams that require less of your time and energy.
By confirming and identifying the stressors in your life, finding solutions that work in the short-term, and making gradual changes to improve your situation down the line, you’ll work with less stress along with its many harmful effects.