Health, fitness and Food
Using Your Brain to Beat Burnout: Five Anti-Stress Tips
Stress-related illness is on the rise in the UK – and increasing numbers of people are hitting levels of stress so hazardous that it lands them in hospital. Yet stress can be conquered by learning to be aware of the signs of burnout and by changing the way you respond to pressure.
In England, the number of people hospitalised for stress has risen by 7% in the past year, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Of the 6,370 admissions made to hospital, most were among working-aged people, indicating that stress at work is likely to have contributed to burnout, a hypothesis backed up by other statistics.
A survey carried out by mental health charity MIND showed that only 36% of workers believe that their workplace prioritises employee mental wellbeing and only 22% think their boss actively helps them to manage their stress.
On National Stress Awareness Day, it is important that people not only check their own stress levels, but that employers and businesses show some willingness to take responsibility for their staff.
You can check for signs of stress, both physically and mentally, by being mindful of your brain, body and behaviours. If you're suffering from sleeplessness, headaches, irritability or a lack of concentration, these can be indicators that stress is starting to overwhelm you.
Undereating, overeating or drinking excessive alcohol can all be signs that you are stressed out and don't know how to deal with it. These behaviours are short-term coping mechanisms, which often leave you feeling worse off than before.
Employers sometimes encourage these faulty coping mechanisms, by providing cakes and biscuits in stressful situations, or laying on an 'office night out' as a treat. But these temporary tactics do nothing to help staff lower their breaking point when it comes to burnout.
I run anti-stress workshops and instead of teaching the tired old stress management techniques, I actually help employees to think more healthily, so that their tolerance for stress is much, much higher.
We all know someone who never seems to get stressed out, no matter what is put on their plate. That's because that person thinks in a way that is conducive to coping with pressure, uncertainty and friction.
If you have a low stress threshold level, here are five quick tips for thinking in a way that promotes a stress-free life:
Stop time-travelling: Worry is only really caused by thinking about the past or the future. Stay in the present moment to give yourself a break. After all, it's the only moment you have any real control over.
Focus on the solution, not the problem: Spending your day moaning about how unfair or hard things are means that you'll have less energy to spend looking for solutions. While it's OK to let off a bit of steam, your main concern should be looking at how you can solve problems, not complaining about the fact you have them.
Get things in perspective: We often blow things out of proportion. Will that presentation, that difficult conversation or that deadline matter in a month's time or a year's time? Remember that bad times will always pass and nothing ever means the end of the world.
Know where your power lies: Worrying about things we can't change is a pointless exercise, and gives us less brainspace to start thinking of how we can solve the things we do have some influence over. Focus on where you can make progress, rather than cursing the inevitabilities.
Focus on the positives: If you're always focusing on what is negative in life, you're likely to become paralysed by your own negativity. Look for the good things, the opportunities and the positives and you'll be a happier and less stressed person overall.
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