STRESS HAS BECOME A CONSTANT COMPANION TO OUR EVERYDAY LIVES. THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO, BUT STILL ONLY 24 HOURS IN A DAY. At the office, you have a dizzying list of tasks to complete, appointments to keep and deadlines to meet. Whenever there is simply not enough time but you still need to deliver peak performance, stress relief is incredibly important.
A study from Switzerland Tourism looked into how stressed people actually are. Of the 2000 Swiss participants, 45% reported that they sometimes experience stress, 27% of them even experiencing it frequently. 4% also stated that they are almost constantly stressed.
There was one clear main cause – work. Almost one in three Swiss people feel pressured by the requirements of their professional lives. 56% believe that they undoubtedly have to work too much.
The stress factor that arises directly from our jobs is being constantly reachable. Another cause of stress named by participants was the need to appear successful to others. Some even cited digitalisation and advances in technology that they do not yet feel confident using.
But how can you withstand the burden that comes from daily working life? People need tips for stress relief that can be easily integrated into everyday life. But before we can get to that, we first need to briefly clarify what exactly stress is.
What stress is and how it works
In principle, stress refers to a state in which you are more tense than normal, both mentally and physically. A distinction should be made here between negative and positive stress. Often the term ‘stress’ is interpreted purely negatively. But stress can actually also be useful, even important, because it acts as a completely natural self-defence mechanism.
This is why your body switches to a stressed state when you are in danger. This is triggered by the increased release of stress hormones like adrenaline. These increase both your performance and your concentration, allowing you to flee more quickly or to fight with greater strength. As soon as the danger passes, the stress also fades away.
However, if the stressed state becomes permanent, this is referred to as negative stress – it is important to minimise this. It is not caused by an imminent danger but by pressure, e.g. time, performance or even social pressure. It is important to deal with mental stress properly to prevent severe consequences such as nervous breakdowns or burnout.
In addition to the feeling of constant pressure, negative stress is also expressed in other ways, such as:
- Increased worries and fears
- Negative thoughts that dominate and cannot be pushed aside
- Physical symptoms, including head-, neck- or back-ache, nausea or blurred vision
What are the best methods of stress relief?
Deal with the cause
The best way to solve problems is to deal with the cause. Work is a good place to start as it is often the main stress factor. There are ways of managing stress directly at your workplace. One important element which is often overlooked is the ambience of your working environment. Not everyone can pick and choose where they work.
However, there are ways of creating the most pleasant possible working environment. If you always work at the same desk or have your own office, you should set up the area appropriately. This considerably helps create a pleasant ambience and has a soothing effect on your mind.
Setting breaks is also important. It goes without saying that breaks should be clearly understood as breaks. Working time and break time should be clearly separated from each other. Only by doing so can you calm your thoughts for a moment. Body and mind can gather new strength for the rest of the working day.
The right to say “no”
Another important element is preventing overload. There are times when there is simply too much to deal with. You cannot always prevent this, but sometimes you can. Asking a large number of colleagues to step in or help with certain tasks avoids obliging them to say yes.
Being prepared to help is a positive characteristic of course, but your own tasks must take priority. This means you must ensure that any extra work is realistically compatible with your own deadlines.
Organisation is essential to ensure you are constantly aware of precisely which tasks are pending and maintain an overview. Periods where the work is piling up are precisely when priorities must be set. Otherwise, you quickly get lost in the chaos and your stress level skyrockets.
It is helpful to clearly categorise which tasks are urgent and which you have a little more time for. This allows you to work through it step-by-step.
The secret Swiss tip for stress relief
Your mind can only really properly relax when it is physically distanced from the trigger of the stress. Top of the list of things that the Swiss do for stress relief is getting out into nature. One of the most popular relaxation activities in nature is hiking.
Getting moving and enjoying the fresh air do not reduce the amount of pressure on you. However, it does considerably help you to handle stress and to reduce the negative health effects. Quiet time spent in the garden also helps more than 40% of those surveyed to handle their burdens more effectively.
Better nutrition and exercise to counter stress
Chocolate makes you happy, but only for a short period of time. Unhealthy foods like sweets, fizzy drinks or quick fast-food lunches put a strain on your body. They create stress, even if they improve your mood in the short term.
People under constantly high pressure demand high performance from their body. There is an equally high need for energy and nutrition. If your body does not get the right amounts of everything it needs, it cannot handle the stress for long. Healthy nutrition is therefore essential for stress relief.
Above all, minerals like calcium and magnesium help to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and to lower high tension levels. For many people, exercise is also a great stress relief valve. The body wears itself out, which leaves it no other option than to relax.
The underlying thinking makes perfect sense. As a result of evolution, stress signals to the body that it has to fight or flee. This prepares it to start moving. If it does not then get to move, for example because you work sitting down, these stimuli stack up.
Exercising allows you to finally release that tension. Physical activity also releases endorphins and serotonin. These happiness hormones then replace stress hormones.
Positive thinking and targeted relaxation exercises
It is not easy to see everything in a positive light despite all the stress. On the other hand, having a fundamentally negative attitude intensifies your stress level, quickly resulting in a vicious cycle. Ideally, your fundamental attitude should be: ‘I will attempt to see the best in the situation.’
Targeted relaxation exercises make it easier to handle stress and can increase your resilience. There are many techniques available here. You can even do short breathing exercises at work, such as the 4-7-8 method.
The 4-7-8 method
This involves breathing in slowly through the nose for four seconds and then holding your breath for seven seconds. Then you breathe out again for eight seconds through your mouth, with it slightly open. Another option is progressive muscle relaxation. In this method, every muscle is consciously tensed and then relaxed one after another.
This exercise helps to reduce both mental and physical discomfort. You can practice progressive muscle relaxation, for example, immediately before going to sleep. It is not uncommon for stress to be associated with problems falling asleep and restless nights. For many people, doing relaxation exercises immediately before going to sleep considerably helps to find a sense of peace.
Sleep is incredibly important in order to replenish your strength for the new day. Your brain also requires sleep to assess, organise and sort all of the information that it processed during the day. This means that sleep quality has a direct impact on your ability to resist stress. Unfortunately, even ten hours of sleep is useless if it is affected by interruptions and turmoil.
What can you do in your private life for stress relief?
In order to successfully relieve stress, you need to create the clearest possible separation between your professional and private life. After work, all of the pressure that your job puts on your shoulders should be shrugged off. This gives your body and mind a period of relaxation. However, setting aside the stress from one second to another is not always so easy.
One effective distraction is hobbies that completely redirect your thoughts. These hobbies may be exercise, gardening or cooking – anything that brings you joy will work. If you like being around people, it is best to partake in hobbies with friends or family. They are a safe haven where you can forget your stress or simply finally express yourself.
Holding in everything that is weighing you down is not always helpful. It is important to have confidants that you can talk to about everything. But stress should not be the main thing you talk about. Often it is helpful to simply talk about whatever is currently on your mind.
Avoid perfectionism and pointless conflicts
The competition does not sleep, and only the best can win, without a doubt. But you can quickly get lost in unfettered perfectionism. There are constant doubts about whether you have done your work correctly or adequately.
The stress level constantly increases. Only those who realise that ‘perfect’ means something different to everyone can escape this pressure, thereby reducing their stress. People who are heavily stressed often end up in heated discussions.
They defend their opinion at any price in order to feel a sense of achievement. However, it is precisely these discussions that further intensify stress, because they quickly lead to conflict. When under pressure, it is often difficult to see things objectively and to give the opinions of others proper consideration.
It is better to remain calm and discuss things objectively. Not only does this help agreement to be achieved more quickly, but it also causes less stress.
Manage stressful situations more effectively with Vivapp
Who hasn’t experienced the pressure to please everyone and always deliver top performance? Not everyone can constantly beat the competition, stand out and handle heavy burdens day after day. Being under constant stress can even pose a risk to your health. Methods of stress relief are indispensable to counteract this.
Both physical and mental health are important, and this is precisely what Vivapp focuses on. Our experienced coaches provide valuable support to overcome all of the hurdles that life throws up.
Thanks to Vivapp, you can learn to concentrate on the positive things and take the best from difficult situations. So stop letting stress throw you off your game and choose your coach.