Stress is a constant companion in our lives as it lurks in every corner - at home, in public, and especially at work. Even if you are lucky enough to love your job, stress is inevitable from time to time, be it through uncooperative or unfriendly colleagues, looming deadlines, or simply the growing amount of tasks and responsibilities that you have to deal with on a daily basis.
Most of the time, stress in the workplace is caused by the fear of being laid off, the pressure to achieve perfect results as flaws or errors will not be tolerated, or by frequently working overtime in order to meet rising expectations which will drain one’s energy and power.
The US alone spends $300 billion each year on stress-related health care as 77 percent of US citizens regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress such as fatigue and backache. According to officevibe.com, an online platform that designs employee pulse surveys to boost employee engagement within organizations, 33 percent feel that they live an extremely stressful life, whereas 48 percent believe that their level of stress has increased over the past five years. Another 48 percent suffer through sleepless nights because they experience stress at work, and 54 percent claim that stress is the reason for them to get into fights and arguments more often. It is also a fact that unhappy employees are less productive.
But how do we know that what we experience is a serious issue or simply a phase that will pass? There are many symptoms that can be caused by a high level of stress: if you are feeling anxious or depressed, if you are suffering from fatigue and muscle tension, have stomach issues, trouble to concentrate and sleep properly, if you are slowly losing your sexual drive and interest in work, or turn to alcohol and drugs, then it is time to stop, take a deep breath and rethink your priorities. We simply cannot overlook the power of stress as it can take a damaging toll on our physical and mental health. Worldwide research has proven that stress has been one of numerous contributing factors to diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and gastrointestinal problems— in short, what begins with stress can develop into serious health conditions.
In serious cases, you should not hesitate to contact a medical expert. In the meantime, however, there are some entertaining and fun little things both employees and employers can do to make the working hours more enjoyable, happier and therefore healthier.
Doing regular exercise has a positive impact on both body and soul. While it is of course impossible to engage in sports during working hours, a little stretching while sitting at the desk can help to release negative energy and loosen tense muscles. Some companies provide ping pong or pool tables in their lobby and lounge where employees can play a little match during their lunch break.
Scream for ice cream
Everyone, young and old, loves ice cream. The US-based Fairfield County Bank uses this knowledge for melting away its employees’ stress: through a cone full of goodness. Every summer, the company collaborates with a local ice cream truck that stops by at the office. It is the perfect opportunity to unwind, talk about things that are not work-related and feeling like a kid again while indulging in scoops and scoops of ice cream.
Pack your bags for an office outing
An office outing can go on a long way - it helps to strengthen the bond between colleagues that often continues even long after the quick getaway. Be it a one-day trip to the beach or a weekend away in the mountains - office outings benefits employees both personally and professionally.
A special space to recharge
Some companies, such as Google, highly appreciate their employees’ creativity and hard work. To constantly ensure a creative work flow, they provide special places like nap pods within the office where employees can relax and rest their eyes for a minute or two.
Yes, we know, swearing is not really a nice thing to do, but according to East Anglia Norwich University in England, expressing your frustration verbally can minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with those curse words.
Hugging and kissing release the “love hormone” Oxytocin that makes you feel calm and relaxed and reduce your level of stress significantly. So why don’t you hug it out with your colleagues or meet up with your significant other during lunch break to have the chance to kiss them Hello and Goodbye before you head back to work? It might be the most soothing remedy ever.
The many benefits of chocolate
Keep a box of chocolates at your desk at all times! Research has shown that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidant flavonoids that can lower the risk of having a heart disease, relax the blood vessels and tone down your stress level. Besides that, chocolate is good for the soul.
Don’t stop before you pop
This may sound like a crazy or childish idea, but try popping sheets of bubble wraps. The satisfaction of hearing the “pop, pop, pop” sound apparently increases one’s level of calmness and releases muscle tension, all of which lead to a reduced level of stress. Be warned, though: this pastime at work is highly addictive!
Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more
And last but not least: tell your coworkers some stupid jokes or funny stories once in a while to get you all cracking up. Laughter is the most powerful antidote to stress: it relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, protects the heart and triggers the release of endorphins. It is, after all, true what they say - laughter is the best medicine.