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Making it Work

Making it Work

Take a quick check: are your shoulders creeping up around your ears? Are your teeth grinding? And is that nagging headache nagging you again? More than a quarter of Canadian workers report being highly stressed at work. Check out some useful tips to manage work-related stress.

Is it getting harder and harder to decompress after another busy day at work? Do you also find yourself physically realigning your neck, back, and shoulders or searching for relief from yet another stress-related headache?
Sad thing is: you’re not alone. More than one in four Canadian workers feel a high level of stress at their workplaces. Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey reported that 3.7 million people felt their lives on most days were “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful.
It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone concerned. Workers feeling high levels of stress suffer health-related issues, and their employers lose productivity because of absenteeism, reduced work output, employee turnover, and increased disability claims.

Some tips to help reduce stress

  • Avoid gossip and negative thinking.
  • Engage in positive self-talk.
  • Make to-do lists and prioritize.
  • Avoid procrastinating.
  • Eat whole, healthy foods and drink water.
  • Avoid caffeine, sugar, and cigarettes!
  • Know your limits—say no when workloads become unrealistic.
  • Schedule “me” time—and stick to your schedule!
  • Exercise regularly—use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Stay positive.
  • Practise mindfulness, yoga, or meditation.
  • Keep your problems in perspective.
  • Get outside in nature.

Some health risks of prolonged stress

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • diabetes
  • gastrointestinal problems (heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome)
  • asthma
  • substance abuse
  • insomnia

Some signs that you’re stressed

  • muscle tension
  • headaches
  • sleep issues (teeth grinding, restlessness, insomnia)
  • stomach and digestive problems
  • skin rashes
  • sexual dysfunction
  • increased use of alcohol or cigarettes
  • over- and undereating
  • mood swings, irritability
  • withdrawal, avoidance
  • forgetfulness
  • poor concentration, racing thoughts

Workplace stress—by the numbers

  • 62% of Canadian workers say work is their main source of stress.
  • 27% of Canadian workers claim to have high to extreme levels of stress on a daily basis.
  • 46% of Canadian workers reported they felt “a bit” of stress on a day-to-day basis.

Not so surprising, low-income workers tend to have lower general stress while high-income workers have higher general stress.

Some helpful supplements for some calm

  • skullcap (Skutellaria)
  • hops (Humulus lupulus)
  • lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • L-theanine, an amino acid derived from green tea (Camellia sinensis)

Adaptogens

Natural substances known as adaptogens, used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to promote a sense of well-being by regulating the adrenal stress response, may help reduce the intensity and negative impacts of stress.

  • Ashwagandha is an anti-inflammatory and calming tonic believed to protect against oxidative stress and prevent premature aging.
  • Rhodiola rosea is an antianxiety adaptogen taken to help boost the immune system and improve mental and physical stamina.
  • Holy basil or Tulsi may help promote longevity, relieve fatigue, and elevate mood.
  • Shatavari is referred to as the queen of herbs because of its traditional use for rejuvenating female hormonal health and normalizing sleep disturbances and insulin secretion.
  • Eleuthero is used as a performance and focus enhancer to increase mental alertness and concentration.

Don’t catch someone else’s stress

Did you know that workers who aren’t stressed by their work can actually be affected by stress brought into the work environment by their co-workers? This phenomenon, called second-hand stress, can be as contagious as a cold or flu virus. Unfortunately, there’s no quick cure for second-hand stress.

Some tips to help avoid second-hand stress

  • Recognize signs of stress in others and learn to regulate your response by practising stress management techniques.
  • Offer support to friends, family, and workmates; the better they can cope, the less chance there is of sharing in their stress.
  • Tell the other person how their mood is affecting you, and be willing to help as long as it doesn’t increase your stress further.
  • Reserve time for yourself; having a break and doing something you enjoy will help relieve tension.

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