- Blood pressure rises
- Heart rate rises
- Breathing becomes more rapid
- Digestive system slows down
- Immune system goes down
- Muscles become tense
- We lose sleep due to our heightened state of alertness
Knowing that I often have work related stress, people ask me all the time, “Jo, what do you do to relieve work stress?” Without thought, my immediate response was, “I drink” followed by “a lot”. When they receive no further response from me, they realize that was my serious answer.
But there’s a flaw to turning to alcohol to manage work stress. The bliss is only temporary and the next morning, you wake up with the same problems you had the day before.
So what then can we do to handle work related stress? I’ve been searching for ways to deal with work stress without altering my lifestyle so drastically that it causes more stress. I needed to find solutions that worked for me. Here are some things I’ve been trying out.
Drink only enough to be okay with the problem
I used to drink until the room spun and my speech slurred. Before 9 pm some nights, I reached a point where nothing hurt and I was deliriously happy about everything. I drank until I forgot about the problem that got me that intoxicated in the first place. The next morning, I woke up feeling 10x worse knowing the problem was still there, except now I had to face it with a migraine. Not to mention, this habit gets quite pricey after awhile.
Now I only drink to calm my nerves. So rather than half a bottle of wine, I only drink a glass with dinner. I suppose my recent awakening to all the WTF moments that happen to us has helped. Now I can stare dysfunction straight in the face… and laugh at it. No longer do I drink to forget the problem, but rather I drink to approach it with a lighter attitude.
Eat your feelings, but choose better foods
My friend and I have a common saying when stress takes over our lives: “We eat our feelings”. This said while we stuffed donuts, cookies and Hot Rods in our mouths (not at the same time, of course). This is another way I used to deal with work stress. I used to end my days with McDonald’s, Harvey’s or Quiznos. I’m not going to lie and say I no longer eat my feelings… but now I try to choose more sensible comfort foods – keyword here is try.
Rather than turning to fast-food, ordering take-out or filling up on a junk food for comfort, I’ve been preparing some wholesome, home-cooked food. Granted, I still consume more than I probably should, but at least it’s food that I’ve prepared myself rather than the greasy preservatives that I would get from fast-food or take-out joints. And as for sweets, such as donuts, cookies and cake, since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anyways, that’s where my glass of wine comes in. 🙂
Have sex… Regularly
For those of you who exercise, good for you. That’s an excellent way to blow off steam (so I’ve heard). For me personally, I don’t have a workout routine. In fact, I’ve always said that sweating isn’t sexy unless it’s in bed. If you’re like me and you don’t work out, then try compensating for your lack of exercise by channeling that energy in the bedroom. Studies have shown that people who have regular sex respond better to stress and have lower blood pressure. It’s doctor recommended!
When all else fails… approach stress like a dog approaches a foreign object
It’s true that there are some forms of stress that won’t go away with a glass of wine, delicious food or good sex. The professionals recommend other activities, such as: going for a walk, listening to classical music, breathing exercises, yoga or meditation. I’ve never tried any of these as a way to handle stress, so I can’t speak to them. You can try these activities and see if they help with your work stress.
OR when all else fails, you can approach relentless stress like a dog would approach a foreign object. If you can’t eat it or play with it, then pee on it and walk away. Sometimes that’s all you can do.