This blog derives from a longer TED-style talk that AP's Line Juster gave during AP Summit 2022 as part of several AP employee talks focused on creating meaningful connections through authentic, vulnerable life lessons that inspired and challenged coworkers to think about things in new ways.
Stress is a huge factor in our lives, with 33% of Americans reporting feelings of extreme stress and 75% of Americans experiencing moderate to high stress levels. On top of these already high numbers, studies also report that 83% of U.S. employees suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives. So, what can we take away from these staggering numbers? The reality is that the majority of stress often comes from our work environments, making it imperative to find a healthy work-life balance through companies that prioritize their employees' health, while also taking steps to ensure your own continual self-management of stress.
Prior to joining Acceleration Partners, I was contributing to the statistics above, and I wanted that to change. Stress was negatively impacting my physical and mental health, as well as my relationships with others and myself. Regardless if your stress is work-related or not, it's important to start acknowledging the state of your well-being.
I discovered that stress often reveals itself through different signs, letting you know that your body or mind is overwhelmed and in need of help. Curious what signs you should be on the lookout for? These are only some examples of symptoms that you can experience once stress starts to have a significant impact on your health:
- Angry outbursts
- Chest pain
- Sleep problems
- Respiratory challenges
- Hormonal imbalance
- Reproductive diseases
- And many more.
If you recognize some of these in your own life, I urge you to think about what you can change in your life to ease your stressors. Even when it feels like you don't have control over certain situations or environments, there are often things you can still do to overcome your stress. Just be patient with yourself and make sure to communicate with loved ones.
Below are my five tips (from personal experience) on how to successfully manage and alleviate stress:
1. Take baby steps
A common misconception people have anytime they're trying to make life changes is the idea that they can make them overnight—this simply isn't doable. When you set goals and expectations for yourself that are unrealistic, the pressure will make you even more stressed and lead you to stop trying to make changes altogether. Instead, think about taking smaller steps toward an end goal, focusing on one baby step at a time.
- Make a list of potential stressors
- Create a to-do list of how to overcome those stressors
- Create a flow chart of how you can change your stressors
2. Find support
You can't do it alone. It's important to seek out loved ones who will be your support system and who are also willing to hold you accountable. Never be embarrassed to ask for help, especially from the people you care about most. At the very least, I recommend that you let your job know that you are stressed and need support—companies that truly care about their employees won't want to see you burnout or experience negative repercussions from being overwhelmed at work.
- Communicate with loved ones (significant other, friends, family, etc.) to get support
- Speak to your manager or HR department at work
- Reach out to your doctor, health line, or facility
3. Stay consistent
Make sure you change one thing at a time, and that you can stick to it. Your health will only change once it realizes the new normal. The body and mind take about 30 days/repeated actions to realize a new habit. By establishing a routine that you can stick to, you're increasing your chances of success. Results take time, but the persistence will pay off.
- Set limits for your work commitments (don't work more than 40-50 hours/week and push back on deadlines when it is warranted)
- Set limits for your personal life (don't say yes to events, parties or get-togethers you know will drain you mentally and physically)
- Ensure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night and create a night routine for yourself to increase your chances of falling asleep.
4. Get your heart pumping
Movement not only helps your overall health, but it also creates endorphins and supports a healthy hormonal balance in your body, which counter your stress hormones that rush through you when you feel stressed. Even if it's only for a short period each day, carve out some time to get away from your desk and get your heart pumping.
- Go for a walk
- Clean or declutter your house
- Dance away in the kitchen when making dinner
5. Throw out the rulebook
Don't worry about what people might think or what you have read in an article (even this one). Listen to yourself and your body, it will guide you to what is right and find the balance that will work for you. After all, no one knows better about what you need than you!
If your stress is work related, consider finding a company to work for that will not only prioritize your well-being and happiness, but provide you with the resources and flexibility to achieve a healthy work-life balance. At Acceleration Partners, we are committed to fully supporting our employees so that they can excel and improve in their careers.