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4 Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Manage Workplace Stress

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 3/25/2009

In our fast-paced society, more and more people find themselves dealing with excessive stress and burn-out related to their jobs. While some amount of stress may be unavoidable, learning to manage it can drastically improve your quality of life.

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    Making a few minor changes in your daily schedule can significantly lower your overall stress level. In fact, the ability to effectively deal with the daily stresses experienced in the workplace can affect your level of success, both in the workplace and out of it.

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    Are you burning out?

    Being aware of the problem is the first step to dealing with it. So how do you know if you're at risk for workplace burn-out?

    If you find yourself dealing with excessive anxiety, depression, apathy or irritability, take notice. These are some of the early warning signs that burn out is imminent. Also watch for fatigue and problems sleeping, social issues and trouble concentrating.

    Some people also find that their sex drive suffers. Changes in your regular appetite may also indicate a problem. Some may experience muscle and joint pain and stiffness, while others may find themselves more susceptible to colds and viruses.

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    Work It Out

    Exercise is an excellent way to help manage stress. Even a half hour of moderate activity a day can make a tremendous impact in the reduction of your stress level. According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, exercise can be an instant mood booster since it causes your body to release endorphins—the feel good hormone often associated with a “runner’s high.”

    Plus, exercise can be considered “meditation” in a sense. “As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity,” concludes the research, “you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.”

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    Eat Right

    An imbalanced diet can also contribute to burn out. Over and under eating are common side effects of workplace burnout. Busy people often make poor dietary choices too, in an effort to make their lives easier. Unfortunately, many convenience foods are full of fat, sugar and sodium, the effects of which can contribute to the feeling of fatigue and burn out.

    Try eating five or six smaller meals per day. This will help to raise your energy level. Also, eliminate as many convenience foods as possible and replace them with healthier alternatives. Limiting the amount of caffeine you consume can help to make you feel calmer too.

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    Make Positive Choices

    Avoid overuse of alcohol. A social drink is okay every once in awhile, but if you find yourself “needing” to drink more often, it may be time to get help. Also avoid nicotine. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a stimulant that can increase your stress level instead of reducing it.

    Be sure to get enough sleep too. Studies show that lack of sleep can cause depression, loss of interest in work and social activities, irritability, and other emotional problems. Physical problems, including hypertension, tremors and weight loss or gain are also possible side effects.