“To achieve great things, two things are needed.
A plan and not quite enough time.”
– Leonard Bernstein, American composer, author and pianist
Mr. Bernstein was right, you know, especially the “not quite enough time” part. Because when time is short, we get a little stressed, a little adrenaline kicks in, and we focus. We kick the BS to one side, and we do what we can.
The inevitable downside? The sound of that clock counting down, as we wait for some imaginary buzzer to go off to signal our time is up, and an equally imaginary voice telling us, “Close, but no cigar. Better luck next time.”
We put ourselves in situations such as this every single day – situations that create stress.
My name is Andy, I’m now a thirty-something entrepreneur in the field of digital marketing, and, as an ex-alcoholic and ex-drug abuser, my addicted days of the past were filled with stressful situations – obviously of my own creation. Where can I get money? Where’s the next hit coming from? Where can I get a bottle to get me through the day?
Yes, I spent a lot of time creating and escaping stress. However, when I left the rehab center which undoubtedly saved my life all those years ago, I walked out into a world where different and new stresses were sitting and waiting for me on the horizon. Only this time, thanks to the center’s holistic approach to addiction treatment, I was ready for them.
Nearly a decade later of being clean and sober, I guess what I learned back then about dealing with stress has stood me in pretty good stead. It’s that education I wish to share with you (you know, addicts like to share – just go sit in one of our meetings).
Before we begin, a few things about stress. You’ve heard of “fight or flight”? That’s our inbuilt stress response. A dangerous situation triggers the release of stress hormones into our bloodstream, giving us added endurance and strength for both fighting and simply running away.
Now, a fast-approaching deadline can hardly be considered dangerous, but our response is still the same. Stressors – the events that trigger this response – can come in many shapes and sizes, such as work, relationships, social pressure, the dreaded money worries, to name but a few. Our response is still the same, whatever the cause – stress.
So, let’s look at how you can hack the stress you may experience in the workplace. After reading my “5 Simple Hacks To Lose That Workplace Stress,” you’ll still experience stressful situations, don’t get me wrong – only this time around, you’ll deal with it before it becomes a problem. Let’s begin:
Healthy body, healthy mind.
That was the core of the holistic treatment for my addictions. I was diagnosed with a little thing called a co-occuring disorder, where 2 distinct and separate disorders were present. Thing is, you can’t successfully treat one without dealing with the other. That’s where the holistic approach comes in.
I learned that if you live in a healthy body, your mind will be healthy too, and far better equipped to deal with stress. However, please, don’t think you need to rush out and grab a gym membership, and spend hours pre-work pumping iron and dying on some cross-trainer machine. Simple and regular exercise is all you need.
Why not try something new? Even though I’ve always been a slave to the basketball court, I started with walking, running, cycling, and even martial arts. Along with the basketball, post-rehab I got fit very quickly. And the best thing? It doesn’t feel like a chore to me anymore – I look forward to it.
Exercise clears your mind, boosts your confidence, and gives you the added energy to deal with your workload.
Holistic addiction treatment focuses on 3 main things – exercise, nutrition and regular hydration. Now may be the time for you to look at your diet, your level of nutrition, and how it actually makes you feel.
Fact: Eating a high sugar, high fat, or high carb diet with not much else will leave you feeling bloated, tired, and unhappy.
Underestimating the effect that food has upon our health isn’t a wise thing to do. Actually, when you think about it, it can be fatal. It’s vitally important to have a healthy, balanced diet – one full of the vitamins, nutrients and amino acids that will help your body and mind function at its best.
You also need to remember that skipping meals can cause headaches, lack of energy, and irritability. Are you annoyed I said that?
Lastly, you should look upon nutrition as you would if you had to walk across a tightrope suspended over the Niagara Falls. Balance is key.
Actually finding the time for hobbies can be a little stressful in itself, but the benefit these simple things will bring is surely worth it. A little like exercise, trying something new is a great way to start.
In rehab, we had a yoga class. I think I spent the first few sessions in a fit of the giggles, but, once we actually learned the basics and understood the mindfulness side of it all, it became something I looked forward to. Guess what? I still practise yoga today.
4. Identify Your Stress Triggers
Crucial. Figuring out the how and the why you get stressed is pivotal to actually hacking any stress you experience in the workplace.
Rehab teaches you a lot about behavioral triggers – the context is somewhat different though. Identifying the triggers that led me to substance abuse was (and still is) a major part of my recovery. The same can be said for dealing with stress.
Is it the deadline that is stressing you out, or the fact that you left it for the last minute?
Is it simply completing the task or the fact that you’re hesitant to ask for help?
A crucial (there’s that word again) part of hacking stress is to schedule your tasks, and set attainable goals. Be realistic. We all want world peace, but by a week on Friday? Seriously?
Always remember that disconnecting from your work allows you to refocus your efforts – which brings me nicely onto….
5. Taking Breaks
Do you know that there are some people in this world of ours that don’t actually take their vacation time? Are they mad? Seriously. My advice? Grab it. Life’s too short and all that.
Yes, I work hard, and I do long hours. However, I know that unless I give myself the chance to revitalize myself, recharge my batteries and enjoy valuable time with friends and family, my “awesome” isn’t going to be awesome for very long.
Live & Learn
“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.”
– Douglas Adams, British author and humorist
So there you have it – my 5 simple hacks to lose that workplace stress, born from my drug and alcohol addiction rehab days, modified a little over the ensuing years of growing entrepreneurship, and presented to you – exercise, nutrition, hobbies, identifying triggers, and breaks.
How do you currently cope with stress in the workplace? Are there any hacks or tricks that you’ve discovered that help you? Feel free to share them with a comment below.
Lastly, don’t ever try walking across the Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Especially if you’ve never had the proper training. Way too stressful.