How to stay healthy with the world on
by Liz Schmid
We've all experienced stress at work. It's that
"frazzled" feeling that causes headaches, a racing
pulse, or cold sweats whenever the phone rings or the
boss asks yet another question. Crashing PCs, conflicts
with co-workers, and deadlines are just a few of the
seemingly endless sources of workplace stress.
Research by the Mayo Clinic shows that stress can take a
toll on both body and soul. Under stress, our bodies
behave as if under attack--whether the threat to our
physical or emotional well-being is actual or imagined.
Chemical "messengers" are released in the bloodstream,
producing physical changes, like increased heartbeat,
that prepare the body for "fight or flight."
The research shows that if stress continues over long
periods of time, it may contribute to physical or
emotional illness because of this chemical reaction.
However, once you recognize that you are stressed out,
there are effective ways to fight it. Here are some
Take care of yourself. The best way to relieve
stress is to live a healthy lifestyle. That includes
good exercise, regular and adequate sleep and balanced
meals. The reason why these three things work? Aerobic
exercise helps burn off the excess energy that stress
can produce. Sleep helps us tackle problems in a
refreshed state. And good nutrition, including fruits,
vegetables and lots of water, keeps your body tuned
Manage your time. Set realistic goals and
deadlines and plan projects accordingly. Do "must do"
tasks first. Schedule difficult tasks for the time of
day when you are most productive. And finally, tackle
easy tasks when you feel low on energy or motivation.
Take time off. Take a vacation or a long
weekend. During the day, take short breaks to stretch,
walk, breathe slowly and relax. Also, learn to set
your limits and, when necessary, say "no" to
additional tasks in a friendly but firm manner.
Choose your battles, Don't argue every time
someone disagrees with you. Save your argument for
things that really matter.
With severe cases of stress, there are a few things to
keep in mind. First of all, do not self-medicate.
Medication and alcohol may seem to help the problem, but
these substances will severely worsen your condition.
You're better off seeking professional help. Also, you
may just have to look for a less stressful job. But
first, ask yourself whether you have given your job a
Signs and symptoms of stress
Physical: Headaches, grinding teeth, tight
and dry throat, clenched jaws, chest pain, shortness
of breath, pounding heart, high blood pressure, muscle
aches, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea,
increased perspiration, fatigue, insomnia, frequent
Psychological: Anxiety, irritability, sadness,
defensiveness, anger, hypersensitivity, apathy,
depression, slowed thinking or racing thoughts,
feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness,
lack of direction, or insecurity.
Overeating or loss of appetite, impatience, quickness
to argue, procrastination, increased use of alcohol or
drugs, increased smoking, withdrawal or isolation from
others, neglect of responsibility, poor job performance,
poor personal hygiene, change in religious practices,
change in close family relationships.