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As the gloomy economic outlook continues to plague us, the office has become a pressure-cooker. With retrenchment figures at an all-time high compared to the last five years, there's no such thing as an iron rice bowl and your bosses are piling even more work on your overflowing plate. Chances are – you’re stressed out at work. And might be dangerously so.
Daily stress can increase your risk of a heart attack by 117 per cent. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones such as epinephrine can damage the heart by increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, and causing spasms of the arteries, rupture of plaques in the arteries and electrical disturbances in the heart – which could lead to strokes, cardiac arrest and death. So how do you avoid an unfortunate end at your desk? Follow this checklist to reduce your stress-levels and extend your life-span.
Make Yourself Coffee
University of Rochester researchers in the US found that taking time to interact with colleagues can help you succeed when you’re slammed with work. Men under heavy job stress who didn’t take advantage of their coworkers’ emotional and practical support were almost three times as likely to become depressed. “Work stress undermines your feelings of effectiveness and the clarity needed to prioritise,” says study author Emma Robertson Blackmore, PhD. So chat up that colleague in the office pantry, even if for just 10 minutes.
If you’re sleep-deprived from working all night on that report, smelling a cup of freshly brewed coffee can lift your spirits, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. A study on the brains of sleep-deprived lab rats found that they produced more proteins with protective/ recovery functions when exposed to the aroma of roasted coffee beans. And brush off those dusty trainers already. Danish researchers found that people who exercise at any intensity for two hours a week – about 17 minutes a day – are 61 per cent less likely to feel highly stressed than sedentary people.
If you find yourself in disagreement with a colleague, step away from your workspace before things come to a head. Go visit the little boy’s room and wash your hands. Removing yourself from the situation momentarily provides the chance to think and not say the wrong thing. While you’re gone, let yourself be upset.
“Anger and agitation tend to be short-lived when you let them play out internally,” says Melissa Blacker, a director of professional training at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. When you’re calm, go to your co-worker and say: “What can I do to help work this out?” He’s probably braced for an unpleasant encounter, so he’s bound to welcome your collaborative tone. At the very least, you’ve let yourself be heard. Letting your anger stew inside you increases the chance you’ll overreact.