Everyone experiences stress at work, so it's essential to understand how we can limit stress on hectic work days. Even when you are rushing to make a deadline, you can stop for rest and relaxation to ensure your own well-being.
Stop and Eat
Usually the first thing to go during a hectic workday is any kind of meal planning. You don't eat all day, become famished and dizzy, and then gobble everything in sight as soon as you can. That is not a healthy way to live, and the symptoms that go with skipping meals (like dizziness or headaches) will make your stress level rise. So even on the most hectic workday, it makes sense to eat small, sensible meals throughout the day.
If you are feeling stressed, taking some sort of physical activity may help you feel better. Physical activity, such as taking a brisk walk or doing a desk workout, can help your body release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that reduce pain sensations. Getting physical offers two benefits: first, it gets you away from your work situation, even if for just a few minutes; and second, the release of endorphins will make you feel happier and more relaxed.
If you are rushed throughout the day, chances are you aren't even taking the time to drink enough water, which can lead to dehydration. Most adults are supposed to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day--that's water only, not caffeinated drinks, which are mildly diuretic and can actually exacerbate dehydration.
The flip side of drinking enough water is actually going to the bathroom when you need to go. Most women hold it as long as they can, which can lead to bladder infections. So do your body a favor: keep it hydrated and then go to the bathroom as often as you need to flush the impurities from your system.
Take a Breather
Take a breather, literally. When you get stressed, you have a tendency to hold your breath. Take a few moments to take some deep breaths, and even repeat a mantra as you do so. This will slow you down and help you to focus your energy.
Give Yourself a Treat
If you feel stressed, take a minute out of your hectic schedule to promise yourself a treat. Promise yourself a hot bath at the end of your long day, a pedicure at the end of a long week or a good book just before bed. Then when you make your goal, get your treat without apologizing. You earned it!
Check In with a Loved One
Sometimes the best way to gain perspective is to check in with a loved one. Get a hug from your kid, text "I love you" to your husband or send your BFF a quick email. Sometimes hearing a friendly voice is the only thing you need to keep going, and it spreads the good feelings to your loved ones, too.
The bottom line to limiting stress is to take care of your basic needs, even on the most hectic days. Give yourself food, water, exercise, oxygen and love--and the occasional treat--and you will be amazed at all you can handle.______________________________
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.