05 November 2013

Beat workplace stress with exercise and sleep

Stressful day tomorrow? Try doing some exercise and getting a good night's sleep to boost your energy, increase productivity and lower your stress levels

Having a workout after work then getting a good night’s sleep is the best way to prepare yourself for a stressful day in the office, research claims.

Tomorrow is National Stress Awareness Day, an annual event that aims to raise awareness of stress and how to prevent it. To avoid getting stressed out on the day itself, you should make sure you get some physical exercise and get a good nights sleep.

Avoid the sofa slump

Academics from the University of Konstanz in Germany say people often relax on the sofa when they know they have a lot to do at work the next day. But they argue that instead of resting in front of the television, entrepreneurs and employees would be better off going to the gym or for a cycle, run or swim and then getting an early night.

Lead author Dr Inga Nagel says: “Our study points to the possibility of positively influencing an individual’s own personal resources in their daily life. When, for instance, an employee faces a stressful or important day at work, the employee should consciously engage in beneficial activities the day before. 

“The results of our study suggest that employees should exercise and sleep more than usual when facing a stressful day at work.”

The findings are published online in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

The research claims exercise lifts people’s mood and makes them more efficient. And the combination of exercise followed by high quality sleep is more likely to increase energy levels and boost productivity.

The emphasis on tomorrow’s National Stress Awareness Day is that workers perform better when they are feeling healthy and well. Help make your office into a stress-free work environment by sharing some advice with your team on National Stress Awareness Day.

Five steps to feeling less anxious at work

Work pressures can be extremely stressful, particularly if you feel unable to take time off when you’re feeling under the weather. For many start-ups and employees, the number of things to do can seem overwhelming. As well as exercising and sleeping more, here are five other things you can do to reduce your own stress levels:

  1. Cut out the caffeine
    If you’re tired and you have a lot to do, it is tempting to try and give yourself a boost by drinking coffee or caffeinated energy drinks. However, too much caffeine will raise your stress levels, making it counterproductive.
  2. Take a break
    When you’re busy, having a rest from what you are doing is the last thing on your mind. But taking 10 minutes away from your computer and your mobile can clear your mind and help you relax, keeping stress levels from rising too high. Regular breaks can also help you to focus better when you go back to your work.
  3. Accept things might sometimes go wrong
    It is important to accept that mistakes are sometimes made and things will not always succeed. Instead of getting anxious about it, take it as an opportunity to learn and develop.
  4. A problem shared is a problem halved
    Don’t suffer in silence when things get too much. Discuss things that are concerning you with a member of your team or if you work alone, talk to a friend or loved one. Sometimes simply bouncing ideas off someone else will bring your stress levels down and stop the feelings of pressure from building up.
  5. Make a list
    Writing down everything you need to do the next day before you go to sleep will help stop you worrying about tasks when you should be resting. Having a to-do list for when you get to the office will also help you prioritise your most important jobs and give you a sense of achievement when you cross items off.

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