It’s safe to say that stress has become an indispensable part of the daily life of a modern human. What’s more interesting, it’s usually caused, deepened or prolonged by such work-related issues as huge workloads, toxic work environments, low compensation. With the novel coronavirus, we’re now bringing this stress home by working remotely. These can have lasting implications on our mental well-being and, ultimately, our gut health. Here are some stress busters to help you cope with work-related stress in the homeplace.
- 1 Work Causes Stress
- 2 10 Stress Busters for Remote Working
- 3 How to Follow These Stress Busters
- 4 Resources
Work Causes Stress
In 2001, over 80% of workers said they feel stressed at work, according to the annual survey Attitudes in the American Workplace . By 2019, this number rose to 94% of workers who claim that they feel stress at work, while 29% of respondents described their stress levels as high or unsustainably high .
Even though we are generally aware of these grim statistics and facts, many of us don’t dedicate too much time and effort into managing and reducing our stress levels. This has drastically changed with the emergence of another variable: the crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, people must change the way they work overnight, causing a spike in stress and more anxiety than ever before.
10 Stress Busters for Remote Working
Before the crisis, workers generally associated working from home or working remotely with lower stress levels . However, in this crisis, that’s definitely not the case. People were forced to adapt to remote work very quickly and without proper time for preparation. This abrupt change is the main cause of higher stress levels from remote work amid the coronavirus crisis. Here is how to get some relief until things settle down and you adapt to the new normal:
Get Fresh Air
Being stuck in the same environment all the time can hinder your productivity and creativity. Staying indoors all day will deprive you of vitamin D, which is closely connected to mood and stress management. You’ll find yourself resenting your workspace (a/k/a your home. a/k/a your happy place).
To solve this, it’s usually recommended that you take a short walk. At least move around the room if you don’t have the opportunity to go outside. Also, consider using a HEPA filter and essential oils to purify the air.
Designate a Spot for Just Work
Working from bed might seem like a divine concept but it’s an ungodly mistake. You don’t want to taint the area where you rest. Don’t bring the stressful energy to bed.
Also, try to stay from other areas that bring you joy like the living room. Don’t set up shop in the kitchen because it can promote stress eating and procrastination.
If there’s an empty room, screened-in porch, or pool cabana, try those spots out. Obviously, not everyone has these options. So, do the best you can!
Take Frequent Short Breaks
Stress and burnout syndrome are twins. They are almost identical and act as if they’re in a cyclical-causal relationship (stress causes burnout and overworking causes stress).
One meta-analysis of stress and burnout eloquently stated,
“Emotional exhaustion is the central strain dimension of burnout, described as feelings of being emotionally drained by one’s work. Cynicism is a negative or excessively detached response to the work itself and/or to the individuals with whom employees’ interact while performing their job. Finally, lack of personal accomplishment refers to a decline in one’s feelings of competence and of successful achievement at work .”– Burnout Research via Science Direct
Seeing as you can’t break this cyclical relationship, you have to control it. Reduce your stress levels by reducing some of the work pressures. Take frequent breaks.
By taking more frequent breaks, you will give your body and mind the necessary space to disconnect and relax. At the same time, you won’t be taking too much time off. One big break in a single sitting can cause you to feel guilty about not working, which can be a stress trigger of itself.
The foods we eat have an impact on how we feel. Every food is comprised of molecules that interact with the molecules that make us. So, if you’re eating foods that cause inflammation, you’re only going to bring on more stress.
“Maintaining a healthy diet is linked to a whole myriad of benefits for the mind, body and spirit. For those who have a tendency to eat junk food, it seems impossible that changing their diet can do so much for their lives, but it actually works like that“, says Melanie Sovann, a nutrition writer at Studicus.
Clean eating swaps are the ultimate stress busters on every level. Not only will you feel good, but you’ll look good too. Without having inflammation in the system, our confidence levels will sore. Naturally, this will lower stress levels!
Stretching really is magic, especially when you’re seated for more extended periods of time. Our bodies may be used to a lot of sitting in front of a screen, but that’s definitely not what they were designed for.
In order to give your body what it needs (and reduce stress), you need to give it movement and an energy outlet. Unfortunately, doing vigorous cardio in the middle of your workday is, in most cases, not possible.
So, the perfect compromise between the two is doing a light stretch that will release some of those tension areas like your neck, shoulders and back. If you do have 20 minutes, try following along with a yoga video on YouTube. Your body will thank you!
Delegate Some of the Work
Stress is often caused by strict deadlines and too much work for one person to handle. Instead of testing your mental, emotional and physical limits, take some of the burdens off. Don’t be ashamed to delegate or outsource some of the work that’s taking up too much of your time.
You can use some of these services to find professionals who can handle your tasks: TrustMyPaper (for any kind of writing, research or reporting), WowGrade (find professionals in any industry or field), Fiverr (outsource some of your tasks to freelancers).
Also, delegation doesn’t end in the work room. Working from home means you’re probably obsessing about the dishes, vacuuming, and other menial tasks that you don’t notice from an office.
Ask for help from the little ones and other adults in the house. Turn your rear-end busters into stress busters. After all, you’re not the only person living there!
Maintain Social Connections
You may be away from your co-workers, but that’s not a reason not to stay in touch with them. Thanks to elegant technological solutions, you can keep in touch with your colleagues and co-workers so smoothly that you’ll sometimes forget that you’re not working from the office!
Relying on social connections, especially on your support group of family and friends outside of work, is crucial for battling high stress levels. Your emotional support group will also help you to keep your motivation levels up, which can break that vicious cycle of stress – low performance – more stress.
Express Your Needs at Home and at Work
Everyone is aware that each individual is having a hard time getting through this tough and uncertain period. Instead of keeping your emotions to yourself and letting them boil inside of you, building up huge amounts of stress, share what you feel, and state your needs.
This sentinment is especially important if you’re working from home, while other people are in the house (either your spouse and children or roommates). To make sure everyone stays productive and in a good mood, you need to clearly set your boundaries and express your needs. The healthiest way to do that is through productive communication. Don’t show what you want and need through acts of passive aggression, but describe it using words.
It’s also important to express your needs at work. If you feel like your productivity and performance at work are damaged by the fact that you’re working remotely, discuss with your HR team or managers what you can do to change that. For example, if video conference calls that are too frequent or unnecessary are bothering you (and causing you stress) you can communicate that.
Meditate or Try Hypnosis
According to scientific research, meditation has all of these health benefits:
- Stress Busters: meditation reduces the inflammation processes caused by stress and decreases overall stress levels, especially with long-term practice
- Decreases Anxiety: after a long day of work, use meditation to unwind and set yourself free from anxieties of work and daily obligations
- Enhances Self-awareness and Confidence: re-connect with your inner self by silencing the hustle and bustle of the outside world
- Improves Focus: meditation can lengthen your attention span by teaching you how to stay focused at one thing at a time
- Forms Healthier Sleeping Patterns: if you’re experiencing difficulties with sleeping after working remotely all day, meditation is the best natural cure for anxiety-caused insomnia
- Helps with Pain: if your stress has manifested somatically as physical pain, meditation is an effective way to combat these types of aches and pains
You don’t have to pretend you’re some spiritual guru. Just start off with five minutes. Find a quite space and sit upright. Pay attention to your breath. Every time your mind wanders, just go back to thinking about breathing. With time, you will seamlessly tack time onto your meditation!
Whenever we’re under stress, it causes an adverse reaction in the gut. That’s why nerve-wracking situations give you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. When this happens, it causes an adverse reaction to our vagus nerve .
Just as stress and poor performance are co-dependent, so is the mind and gut. So, if your mind is at unease, so is your gut biome.
Probiotics improve the environment in your gut. They make it easier for you to digest food, help the growth of immune cells, and keep pathogens at bay. All of this makes the vagus nerve happy, which lowers stress levels.
How to Follow These Stress Busters
As you can see, there are many resources you can use to decrease your stress caused by working from home. Most of these stress busters are easy and quick to do. They just require slight chances to your normal routine. However, that’s what this whole pandemic has been about!
If you feel like some of these stress busters suit you more than others, feel free to focus more of your time and attention towards them. Not everything works for everyone, but it’s worth it to try and take even the tiniest steps towards reducing your stress and anxiety while working from home.
 “Attitudes in the American Workplace VII .” Stress.org, Telephone Polling for The Marlin Company by Harris Interactive, Aug. 2011, www.stress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/2001Attitude-in-the-Workplace-Harris.pdf.
 Hansen, Brianna. “Crash and Burnout: Is Workplace Stress the New Normal?” Wrike, 6 Sept. 2018, www.wrike.com/blog/stress-epidemic-report-announcement/.
 Author, Guest. “How Working from Home Can Reduce Stress.” FlexJobs Job Search Tips and Blog, FlexJobs.com, 11 Jan. 2018, www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/how-working-from-home-can-reduce-stress/.
 Bakker, Arnold B., and Patrícia L. Costa. “Chronic Job Burnout and Daily Functioning: A Theoretical Analysis.” Burnout Research, Elsevier, 22 May 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213058614000096.
 Thorpe, Matthew. “12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 July 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation.
 Gerritsen, R., & Band, G. (2018). Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 397. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00397.