This is a guest post from Mans Denton who is a blogger at The Hacked Mind. He is also the co-founder of Pure Nootropics, which provides cognitive enhancement and smart drugs for high performance individuals. I asked Mans to put together his thoughts on handling workplace stress and this is what he came up with.
For any engineer, the causes of stress are self-evident. Most people work under stressful conditions, but they are rarely given some of the simple tools that can improve stress on a long-term basis. While there are plenty of tangible ways of reducing stress, it is best to focus on specific principles that one can take throughout their life for a better experience.
This quick list of methods that can help you deal with stress will hopefully make long-term life improvements no matter what employment situation you are in. Some are philosophical and some tangible, but they have improved my working experience manifold.
Three Ways to Deal with Stress
If there is one thing that I have learned through meditation and Zen philosophy, it is to accept the current state. For western thinkers this sounds passive and too self-evident, but it is actually quite powerful. Accepting your situation means nothing more than seeing pain, deadlines, and stress for what they are rather than making them worse.
Shakespeare once famously said “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” When I visit the gym for a high intensity session, there is plenty of pain involved. If I focus on the pain and feel concerned by it, my mind amplifies the torment. As soon as I accept and observe the pain, most of it goes away.
That isn’t to say all your stress will melt away as soon as you accept it. However, you will avoid making the physical stress worse in your mind.
Most people view stress from a short-term gratification perspective, which only makes things worse in the long-run. It may feel stressful to wake up early and work on projects, but coffee is not a long-term answer to the problem. In fact, the caffeine in high doses will burn out your adrenal glands and lead to more physical stress. In this scenario, it would be beneficial to focus on sleeping habits that make it unnecessary to take caffeine in high doses.
Any time you try to solve a stress problem from a short-term perspective, you invariably make things worse. Coffee is only one example, but you see it in almost every working environment. Any decision you make to reduce your physical and mental stress should come from a place of sustainability.
Don’t Compound Stress
The final rule is a little more practical. A lot of engineers and people working in offices find plenty of stress with their job. Finishing work before deadlines and completing large-scale projects can be a massive headache and a stressful period. However, most people don’t realize how much they are compounding their own physical stress.
The human body was not meant to sit for long periods of the day. Even if you feel that many hours working on a project is causing the stress, it may actually be the seated position. Try to stand up or go for a walk every now and then to avoid compounding the stress of work with physical stressors due to bad habits.
Your diet and exercise habits play a massive role in controlling physical stress as well. If you eat foods that are high in lean protein and healthy fats without a lot of simple carbohydrates, this evolutionary style approach is going to prepare your body for a lot more stress rather than compounding your pain.
Work and Stress
Not everyone can work in a position that they enjoy for their entire life. While it is ideal to find a project or business that causes little stress, this isn’t always possible. Instead of making your stress problems worse, a few of these ideas and philosophies will improve your stressful work situation.
Image Credits: by Anant Nath Sharma on Flickr