Work Stress & Self-Care

jess-clear

Jess Welch, Wellness Coordinator

How does one cope with too much work, little help, and no time to do their mounting tasks? Through coaching I consistently hear employees tell me about low job satisfaction. Work is their number one source of stress in their life and carries out into other areas leading to low life-satisfaction.

“I have no time to work out.”

“If I had one word to describe my eating habits it would be ‘quick’.”

“Work is constantly on my mind, distracting me from time with my family.”

“I blink and my entire day is gone.”

And as much as a simple answer could be to quit their jobs, it isn’t so simple after all. Everyone has bills to pay, relationships they have made within the workplace, and face the risk of starting over while many may enjoy large pieces of their jobs. So we have this complex issue of increased stress leading to increased risk factors for things like cardiovascular disease, decreased fulfillment, and no real answer to fix it due to life’s high demands.

Because this blog is not for my recommendations of the complex situation for employers to aide in creating a lower stress environment for their employees, I am going to focus on you: the workers. How do you keep up with life’s high demands inside and outside the workplace? How do you develop healthy habits and keep a job you may have worked quite hard to obtain?

Developing healthy coping strategies takes cognitive effort. If it were something you could do outside of cognitive thought, you probably would have been doing it already. As a species, we run as efficiently as possible already but unfortunately this is a piece we still have to think about. However, once we develop the strategies needed for self-care, it becomes less necessary to be intentional about it and more habitual.

Now, I break up stress into two separate categories: the first being that immediate stress, the “here and now” stress, the “my chest hurts and my head is spinning” stress. The second being that mounting and constant stress, like a consistent dull noise in the back of your head. Below you will see some ideas to help cope with each type.

The immediate stress:

  • Remove yourself from the situation for five minutes
  • Close your eyes and take 3 slow breaths: 7 seconds in, 10 seconds out.
  • Plug in your music and listen to one song you love
  • Get a stress ball

The consistent stress:

  • Go for a walk, exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit Caffeine intake
  • Plan a weekend
  • Do something you enjoy; volunteer, read a book, etc.

Coping with the consistent stress helps decrease the times of that “immediate stress” feeling. So developing a good self-care plan will lower those intense feelings. Now, you’re probably thinking – “Jess, if I have time I would have already been doing this! This doesn’t answer my question at all.” My answer? Find five minutes in your day. Then find ten. Increase your moments of self-care by five minutes a week until you can somehow find 20-30 minutes in your day. This does not need to be all at once, scatter it if you need to. But I promise, once you do you will not regret it! Your physical body, your emotional body, heck – even your work will all thank you!

 

Incorporating Biking (and Families!) into your Wellness Programs


Toni Sperlbaum, VP of Sales & Marketing

May 15-19 is National Bike to Work week.  Before you shut down the idea because:

“My employees would never bike to work” or
“Our employees are too geographically spread out” or
“Whatever other excuse you can come up with not get involved,” WAIT!

Even if these are true, use the “Bike Week” opportunity to encourage bike riding for the upcoming warmer months.  They don’t have to bike to work, but consider implementing a “biking challenge” when members have to bike 30 miles (for example) during the entirety of the month when biking works best for them.  One never-ending challenge of corporate wellness programs is how to get families involved.  Biking is the PERFECT activity to incorporate family members.  Maybe they have a goal of 30 miles for them and an additional 30 miles for all other members of the family (combined) and they go into a drawing to win some cool gear or a gift card if they hit their 30 mile (or family 60 mile) goal.

Benefits of Biking:

  1. Weight loss: cycling a minimum of 30 minutes has immense benefits (not to mention the cardio)
  2. It’s environmentally friendly
  3. Easy on the joints
  4. Gets people OUTSIDE and encourages them to explore nature
  5. Improved sleep
  6. Studies have shown that cyclists have lower stress levels compared to non cyclists.  The increased blood flow and sweat produces production of mood enhancing hormones.
  7. Cycling 3-4 times a week strengthens the immune system, therefor, cyclists are much less susceptible to taking sick days.

Something else I’ve learned over the years: your employees may surprise you! Maybe no one bikes to work now because they’ve ever thought about it (until you introduce the idea), there are no bike racks, or their bikes need a tune up.  Most bike shops will offer a free tune up, ESPECIALLY during Bike Week, or big time discounts on parts needed to make the bike working like new again.  I encourage you to at least put it out to your employees and not just assume they are not interested or will not participate.  Even if you can get ONE more employee riding their bike more often, why not take the opportunity?

Promote these free tune ups, look at installing some bike racks, give them a trail map (or a website where they can research themselves) and give your employees a chance.  You may be surprised!

Humor Me This!


Jamal Mack, Wellness Coordinator

Did you know April was National Humor Month?  Humor is commonly referred to as the spice of life.  It can turn a negative situation into a positive and it can turn your frown upside down.  Humor has been scientifically proven to have various wellness benefits such as decreasing stress hormones and increasing cell strength in immune- and infection-fighting antibodies.  When it comes to improving your body’s natural defense system, humor is nothing to laugh at. (Get it?)

But enough of my HILARIOUS pay-per-view worthy jokes; I think it is important to honor the people who thought life in April was too serious and decide to make it funnier for each and every one of us.  Comedian and best selling author Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month in 1976 with the goal in mind that everyone share life’s humor, laughter and mirth.  Fittingly enough, National Humor month kicks off with April Fool’s Day, a day usually involving pranking on a mass scale and as a result, grants humor, good feels, and the occasional angry, yet forgiving “prankee” or victim.

If National Humor Month were celebrated in medieval times, hats off to the court jester all month long.  Since it only started a mere 41 years ago, we have some making up to do for lost time.  This month, I encourage you to tap into your funny bone and make the world a little funnier by making someone heartily giggle at your fun, yet safe, humorous antics.