Workplace stress affects millions of individuals—ones without depression and anxiety disorders. So what do you do when you have a mental health or mood disorder like anxiety or major depressive disorder and you’re dealing with a lot of workplace stress?
You have to work to pay the bills, but you don’t want to compromise your health and well-being at the same time.
So, how does one cope with deadlines, high pressure meetings, huge conferences with major social pressures, oral presentations, huge stacks of paperwork, an unfeeling, demanding boss or other high anxiety factors in the workplace?
The American Institute of Stress (AIS) recently determined that over 66% of all stress is caused by work-related anxieties and pressures.1 But they also found that the chief problem compounding that stress is a lack of work-life balance—in other words, people are bringing that stress home with them. What this means for us is that everyone needs to find ways to relieve stress in order to prevent worsening depression and anxiety or developing these disorders in the first place.
The ideal for someone with mood or anxiety disorders is to begin prioritizing strategies that can be used to relieve stress at work or home when pressure closes in.
Let’s talk about some therapist-advised strategies for work-related stress relief.
Best advice: Talk to a counselor or therapist about work pressures.
Counseling or “talking therapies” offer us the opportunity to reframe our lives in the presence of someone who can look at our life situations from the outside, and help us put things in proper perspective. We can say things to a therapist like “And I have this to do and that to do and my boss treats me like …” and get some valuable coaching on how to prioritize and manage workplace pressures without placing ourselves at risk. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially helpful for people suffering with anxiety compounded by workplace pressures, as it “can help change negative thought patterns that develop as a result of stress, helping the person … find new ways of thinking about stressful events that may not have such a negative effect.”2
Mindfulness and meditation.
Do you know how many Type A people with high-pressure jobs meditate? Everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Oprah Winfrey practices meditation, because these people lead high pressure lives, with lots of meetings, and lots of money at stake, which makes everything more stressful. Guided imagery, deep breathing, sitting in a lotus position while practicing positive affirmations, listening to self-help tapes, all of these forms of mindfulness and self-care can help you put things in much needed perspective. Meditation can be something as simple as sitting outside in the morning sun and practicing deep breathing techniques!
Above all other forms of exercise, yoga is fantastic for helping reduce perceived stress levels and relieve anxiety about the workplace.3 Yoga is actually both a form of exercise and a self-soothing technique, with proven effects for lowering stress and anxiety levels. Try taking some yoga classes, where you can relax, unwind, and meet other individuals who are seeking the same!
Hug a Pup!
One of the smartest (and fun!) things you can do for yourself – that is proven to reduce anxiety—is to get a pet you can cuddle at home. In studies, pet therapy has proven to improve moods in people with major depressive disorder and anxiety. If you cannot get a pet, find one to cuddle at a pet store, go walk a friend’s dog for them, or become a dog walker for others. You’ll be amazed at what a furry friend can do for you!
Do something generous for someone else in your life.
This is an interesting and very proven way to relieve stress. A recent study conducted by Michael J. Poulin of the University of Buffalo found that the negative effects of stress on psychology and health were completely erased when people gave something to someone else or did something generous for something else, like friends and neighbors, on a regular basis. This is because, as Poulin learned, doing kind things for others and other altruistic behaviors actually triggers the release of a positive hormone called oxytocin (aka the “cuddle hormone”) that helps relieve negative stress.4
Look to nutrition: Remedy any vitamin and fatty acid deficiencies.
When you’re low in essential fatty acids, minerals like selenium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, and certain vitamins like A, C, D, and E, anxiety and depression can worsen.5 Many people are deficient in minerals today because minerals have been sapped from our soils, and nutrients have declined by over 30% in fruits and vegetables since just 1950.6 Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies, especially, can cause depression and anxiety, as these fats are used to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters that keep our moods “up” and stable. Good ways to get more vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3 fatty acids are to eat more fatty fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, or to try other good sources like omega 3 oil, omega 3 blends, or omega 3 capsules. Green drinks are packed with fat and water-soluble vitamins as well as minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, all of which can help keep you mentally and physically fit and maximally calm and happy.
By keeping the body resilient, we can become more bulletproof to the more detrimental effects of stress and direct our newfound energies into hobbies, fun activities, friends, and positive things to do – not stressing out about work. Leave work at work, and get living again!
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
Author Bio: Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry’s website www.energyfirst.com offers quality, all natural, premium supplementation products such as omega 3 oil, omega 3 blends and omega 3 fish oil capsules, green drinks, etc. Read his blog at http://blog.energyfirst.com. Twitter: @EnergyFirst
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc.
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2Goodtherapy.org. Stress. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/stress
3Doria, S. et. al. (2015). Yoga for anxiety management in the workplace. Mental and Behavioural Disorders and Diseases of the Nervous System » “A Fresh Look at Anxiety Disorders.
4Donovan, P. (2013). University of Buffalo News Center. Study finds it actually is better to give than to receive. http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2013/02/003.html
5Rao, T. S. S., et. al. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
6 Scientific American. Dirt poor: Have fruits and vegetables become less nutritious? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/
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