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Whether it’s caused by the fast pace, a big meeting or a cranky boss, workplace stress affects many of us. While a little stress can be a good motivator, excessive stress can have negative effects on your health, says Brett D. Young, M.D., a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.
“Extreme stress can raise your blood pressure, and can cause changes in your mood, including depression,” he says. Here are seven ways to cope with stress on the job.
1. Gain perspective. “Even people with important jobs need to realize it’s just a job,” Dr. Young says. “Your health should always come first, because without your health, nothing else matters.”
2. Keep a journal. “Track when you feel the most stress, and jot down what you were doing,” he advises. “You may find that one activity causes all your stress and decide to ask for help. Or maybe you’ll learn your stress is caused by your own procrastination, and that’s easy to change.”
3. Go for a walk. Using your breaks or part of your lunch hour to get a little physical activity can help lower blood pressure levels and give your busy mind a chance to rest.
4. Exercise regularly. “Regular exercise helps counter the negative effects of stress,” Dr. Young says. “Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days a week.”
5. Exhale. “Taking a deep breath can return your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels,” he says.
6. Sleep. “Sleep helps combat the effects of stress,” Dr. Young notes. “And when you’re well-rested, you feel better able to cope.”
7. Talk it out. Whether it’s with a friend, spouse or professional counselor, if stress is getting out of control, talk to someone about your feelings. “Sometimes, just the act of expression can bring stress levels back down,” Dr. Young says.
To gain better control of your health — from nutrition to exercise to stress — talk to your primary care doctor. Don’t have a doctor? Find a physician online.
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