Tired? Take a Deep Breath and Relax

Employers can help workers manage stress and its symptoms, including fatigue, by giving them more control over their schedules. Click the image above to listen to a CDC podcast for more information.

Employers can help workers manage stress and its symptoms, including fatigue, by giving them more control over their schedules. Click the image above to listen to a CDC podcast for more information.

Ever wonder why there are only 24 hours in a day? You can thank the ancient Egyptians and their base 12 system of counting.

The concept worked well in 3000 BC, when shadow clocks and sun dials were all the rage. But things have changed a bit in past 8,000 years, including technology and the demands on our time.

Busy people juggling personal and professional lives are the norm, not the exception. Conference calls, meetings, kids’ soccer games, doctor’s appointments and longer commutes consume more of our attention. Sandwiched between our myriad responsibilities, if we’re lucky, is an ounce of “me time.” We’re putting more on our plates, but the clock isn’t adjusting accordingly. If we could ask the Egyptians one thing, it would likely be: “Why’d you stop at 24 hours?”

Eventually, the stress of trying to do more with less can break even the most organized, efficient of us. One in seven people report that they quit a job because of stress, according to a study by the mental health charity Mind.

Firefighting is America’s most stressful job, followed by military personnel and airline pilots, according to an annual survey by CareerCast. It seems shift work, hazardous situations and putting someone else’s life in your hands can be disregulating, to put it mildly.

Stress is the body’s reaction to anything that disrupts our routine. You’re probably familiar with the emotional symptoms of stress: moodiness, difficulty relaxing and lack of concentration. But did you know stress can also sap your energy as much as a sleepless night? Here are a few tips for keeping stress in check:

  1. Learn the signs of stress, and recognize when it might be time to see a physician.
  2. Exercise regularly. Exercise produces endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemical.
  3. Choose foods that tame stress. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical, according to WebMD. Salmon, tuna and other fatty fish can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones that take a toll on the body.
  4. Avoid the urge to take on more commitments than your schedule allows.
  5. Manage your time effectively. If you find yourself consistently focusing on urgent tasks, your life can seem like a fire drill. Make time for tasks that are important but not urgent, and you can lay the foundation for long-term success and less stress.
  6. Carve out time for yourself, without worrying about responsibilities.
  7. Call it diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing or paced respiration. For our purposes, it’s called deep breathing, and it has been proven to ease stress.

Missed our previous posts?
This is the last in a series of four posts showing how a commitment to wellness can help workers manage fatigue. If you missed our previous posts, click the links to read them:

Sleep Well

Eat Your Way to a Healthier, More Energetic You

7 Tips for Working Out Fatigue

More information on wellness
Worker health and safety are inseparable. Healthy workers tend to get injured less, and when they do get injured, they recover faster. For more information on the symbiotic relationship between health and safety, click on these links:

Why Wellness Matters in Workers’ Comp

10 Tips for Integrating Health and Safety

Worker Health and Safety: A Symbiotic Relationship

The Business Case for Employee Wellness Programs

3 Tips for a Healthier, Safer You

Make Wellness Part of Your Benefits Package

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