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Published on June 22, 2020

How to Deal with Stress at Work in Times of Corona

How to Deal with Stress at Work in Times of Corona

One problem that pretty much every human on earth is facing is knowing how to deal with stress at work.

Things were already challenging but with the corona pandemic, the dynamics of the work environment have completely changed. On top of the increases work pressure and stress, the entire structure and system have changed too.

Some people have to work from home for the first time in their life. Others have to observe extreme caution inside their offices. All this while there is a constant risk of health, too.

Everybody is a victim of this crisis. So, read on to find out how you can deal with stress at work in a time like this.

Cause of the Increasing Stress

Work stress has always been a thing. But why has it become so much worse now?

Let’s first understand the causes so it’s easier for you to implement the resolving tips.

Firstly, there’s a panic of the unknown. All of this is new for everyone. Nobody knows what’s exactly going, how long it will go on, and what to expect. This alone is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health.

Since the mind is already preoccupied with this issue, it’s hard to focus on work. Moreover, the chances of being at risk of infection are also causing a distraction.

The biggest worry for everyone around the world is to stay safe and protect their loved ones. Work tasks are not even among the highest concerns.

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Although you’re not thinking about it, the stress is building up in the back of your mind. If not today, you’ll have to tackle all the work tomorrow. Work is piling up while focus and motivation are dropping low.

It’s worse for people who have to work from home. The change in environment, additional distractions, and the general aura of bad vibes are affecting productivity.

All of this sounds scary and unmanageable. However, a few efforts in the right direction can fix your productivity, attention, and motivation. Once you tackle these factors, you can reduce the stress that is connected to work.

How to Reduce Stress Naturally Amid the Crisis

There are some easy to implement tactics that minimize stress, in general. Moreover, on top of that, using the following tips will get the person back on track during this pandemic.

These tips will help you get into the workflow to encourage productivity. You’ll feel at ease once your mind starts focusing on the ‘normal’ things.

This will naturally encourage a sense of serenity that relaxes your body and hence, fewer stress hormones are released.

Voila! That’s all it takes to get rid of your built-up work stress!

1. Prioritize

We’ve all gone through weeks of lockdown. Work was put off in most cases. Work hours were cut down. The overall shift to get used to the new work culture caused a slump.

Therefore, the work has piled up now more than ever before. With the stressful news coming your way constantly, it’s really hard to keep up.

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So, to keep things in control, you have to prioritize. A well-organized to-do list should keep you on track. Use this list to pre-plan your day, week, and even month.

Other than organizing your work, prioritize positive things over negative ones. Turn off the news for a while. Do not expose yourself to things that will make you feel sad or stressed. Prioritize your work and other tasks that you did before the corona days to feel as normal as possible.

2. Get Clear Instructions

As previously mentioned, everybody’s mind is jumbled up during this crisis. So, it’s natural if you don’t understand your work tasks as proactively as you did before.

There’s nothing to worry about here. Keep asking questions unless all your queries are answered. If you find it hard to retain information, ask your superiors to send you a written instructional document. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

With clear instructions, you’ll have a clear route to follow. That will keep you from feeling lost, which helps deal with stress at work.

3. Challenge Yourself but Don’t Overdo It

In this time, you shouldn’t let yourself slack. Do not give up challenging or hard tasks just because you think you’ve got an excuse to let them go. Keep learning and growing in this time so that you come out of this pandemic more valuable and useful.

Simultaneously, if you’re afraid that doing too much will make you more stressed or affect your mental peace, let it go. Basically, say no. But also, say yes. Maintain a healthy balance.

4. Balanced Nutrition and Sleep Cycle

Not only is sleep and nutrition needed for your mind to do well in your work tasks, but it also boosts your immune system.[1]

During this time, you need to feel healthy. A stronger immune system will keep you strong against the virus so you don’t have to worry about getting infected and can focus on your work more.

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How to Boost Productivity When Working From Home

A huge challenge is to create a work-like environment in your home physically and mentally. If you can reciprocate a similar vibe, you won’t feel as much of a difference and that will put your mind to ease.

Here are a few simple things you can do to naturally encourage a work mindset even when you’re at home.

1. Distinguish Your Workspace

Previously, you physically entered a different space to work. The commute and then the change in the natural environment caused the gears in your mind to shift too. This automatically let your productive side take over the lazy side.

You should distinguish your workspace in your home too so that a similar mindset is encouraged. Sit in a corner where you don’t sleep, lounge, or eat. Even if you live in a one-room apartment, grab a chair, and put it in a new spot.

2. Dress Up

Just like your brain prepared itself when you entered a different physical space, your mind also got ready to work when you dressed up for work. The little amount of time you spent getting ready was the time when your mind woke up and got set for work.

Continue to follow the same regime as you did when you went to the office. You don’t necessarily have to wear a 3-piece suit. However, change out of your pajamas. Take a shower. Put on some makeup if that’s what you did before.

You don’t have to follow a strict regime. Just do enough that gives your mind the idea that it’s time to go to work.

3. Take Enough Breaks

In a brick-and-mortar office, you’re usually not in control of breaks. However, at home, you have this luxury. Considering the higher stress levels, you should incorporate enough breaks throughout the day.

Not doing so will take a toll on your mind because you’re exhausting yourself.

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Don’t overdo it. Just take a 5-minute break from your screen after every hour. After a couple of hours, take a snack break. Do whatever suits you but make sure to maintain a balance.

4. Stay Connected

The corona pandemic has affected social relations in the worst possible way. One great thing about an office is that you get to connect with colleagues. Now that physical connections aren’t possible, take out time for online socializing.

Whether it is an online meeting or a casual online catchup session, continue to make an effort to stay connected. This will keep your stress at bay.[2]

5. Minimize Distractions

If you live with your family and have kids at home, working from home can be a nightmare. But you have to be strict. Do not let anyone enter your workspace while you’re working.

Have all your work essentials in your home office so you don’t have to leave during work. Keep your work device, internet, and charger within reach. Have water and snacks nearby too.

Put your phone away if it’s not needed for work. Otherwise, just log out of your social media accounts on your mobile and laptop so that notifications don’t distract you.

Sit away from a window if you’re likely to get distracted by the outdoors or sit near a window if you like to get some sunlight. Reduce the noise around you, sit in a comfortable chair, and do whatever needs to be done to keep you attentive.

The Takeaway

Everyone in the world is going through a hard time these days. You shouldn’t feel bad or alone at this time. Understandably, work stress has built up and gotten worse.

The unforeseen circumstances have forced everyone to find unusual solutions to deal with stress at work. You should do the same.

Most importantly, do not worry yourself. Like everything else, humans will adapt to this too. All you have to do it stay strong, stay safe and give this situation some time to settle.

More Tips on How to Deal With Stress at Work

Featured photo credit: Rainier Ridao via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psych Central: Beating Stress Through Nutrition
[2] NHS: 10 Stress Busters

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on June 12, 2020

Benefits of Having a Pet: Why Keeping Pets Gives You Positive Energy

Benefits of Having a Pet: Why Keeping Pets Gives You Positive Energy

Pets are hard work. Taking care of an animal is a financial investment, a time commitment, and sometimes a source of frustration. However, any pet owner can attest that their pet is worth all of the effort.

This is because pets, by nature, provide us with an influx of positive energy[1] that we can’t find anywhere else. Specifically, there are four important ways that pets provide positive energy that all pet owners should be thankful for. 

1. They Support Your Mental Health

No matter what you’re going through, a pet will be by your side to help you through it. With the spread of COVID-19, the emotional support of our pets is more important than ever. There is increased fear, anxiety, and depression as we all face the unknown, experience loneliness from social distancing, and watch the confirmed cases and deaths rise. Our pets can provide real, critical support in the face of all this turmoil.

Some specific ways that pets help your mental health include:

Companionship

There are many times in your life where you will feel alone. Maybe you’re social distancing, you just moved to a new city, you’re going through a break-up, or you recently lost a family member. A pet will be there for you and can provide a stable relationship even when other relationships are unstable.

A study of 148 college women proved this when it found that those who owned pets had lower loneliness scores on the UCLA Loneliness Scale[2]

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Stress Reduction

Life gets hard. Homework can pile up at school, projects can create tension at work, or deadlines can loom over your head. When these things happen, it’s nice to have a pet to come home to.

Pets are carefree, and petting, walking, or playing with them can take a load off after a long, not-so-carefree day. 

Having Something to Care for

Pets need constant attention. For instance, dogs always need to be walked, fed, and played with. Even smaller pets like a gecko need constant care: they need food, water, tank cleanings, tank temperature checks, and great care when handling.[3] That’s a lot to attend to!

Having someone to care for helps your mental state by giving you a sense of responsibility over another life and by making you feel needed and important. Truly, pets rely on us for everything, and that can give your life an added sense of meaning and purpose. 

They’re Cute!

Having an adorable little friend to come home to would put a smile on anyone’s face. Whether you have a dog with floppy ears and a big smile, or a gecko with big bright eyes and tiny little toes, having such a cute creature to call your own brings joy and is a source of pride. 

ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) are proof of the mental support that pets can provide. ESAs are helpful for people with more serious mental health conditions like panic disorders, major depression, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder[4]. Dogs, cats, birds, and even pigs can be ESAs and have helped support people with these conditions in ways that other humans cannot express. 

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2. They Support Your Physical Health

In addition to supporting our mental health, pets also provide positive energy by supporting our physical health. According to the National Center for Health Research, here are some of the ways dogs improve physical health[5].

Exercise and Fitness

Exercise and fitness come to mind first when we think about physical health. This benefit is seen most in dog owners, since dogs are high-energy. They frequently need to go on walks or runs, and if your dog is walking, then so are you.

Routine exercise can be hard for non-dog owners to commit to. However, as soon as you adopt a dog, you have another life who is depending on you to establish and maintain that routine. 

Allergy Immunity

Believe it or not, research suggests that kids who grow up around animals are more likely to develop an immunity to bacteria and pet allergens. This is especially true for kids who grow up on farms with animals like dogs, cats, cows, horses, and chickens. 

Reduced Cardiovascular Risk and Lower Blood Pressure

Pet owners have less cardiovascular problems and lower blood pressure. This could be a result of more exercise, higher emotional support in the face of stress, or a combination of both.

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A recent study by Washington State University[6] found that students who were able to pet an animal for just ten minutes significantly reduced the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Imagine how much you could reduce stress if you had an animal nearby all the time! 

Less Medical Care

Studies have found that those who own pets, specifically dogs, seek general medical care less frequently than those who are non-pet owners. This makes sense considering the mental and physical benefits of owning pets. In a 1992 study, participants reported less general health complaints and a score improvement on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30)[7].

Easing Pain

People who experience chronic pain, such as migraines or arthritis, have reported that owning a pet helps them deal with that pain. The emotional support and lower stress that pets provide is a possible explanation for this. A less active, quiet animal may also be more comforting for those dealing with chronic pain. 

The physical benefits that pets provide have an added bonus: when you feel good on the outside, you tend to feel good on the inside, too! So, the physical benefits that pets provide can double as benefits to your mood and mental health. 

3. They Provide Social Support

Pets provide social support by being our best friends. A lot of people feel that they can relate to their pets, and even have similar personalities. For instance, more active people may adopt energetic dogs, and the bond between them is often quite strong. 

Pets also provide social support by helping you meet new friends. For instance, talking about your pet can be a great icebreaker when you’re meeting new neighbors, classmates, or coworkers. In my own experience, people love hearing about your pets and seeing pictures, too! If the person you’re sharing with also has a pet, you automatically have something in common that can help foster a new friendship. 

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Dogs provide an added social support because of their active nature. You can meet new people or strike up a conversation with your neighbors just by taking your dog on walks or bringing them to the dog park.

Once you’ve met new friends, you can get to know them better by having doggy play dates or by sharing advice about training, illnesses, or behavioral problems. If you’re a cat owner, don’t worry; some cats also like having play dates with new friends, and fellow cat owners will also be a great source of advice and support in caring for your own cat. 

Having uncommon, exotic pets has social advantages, too. If you don’t know many people who have the same type of lizard or bird that you do, for example, this gives you a unique connection to others who do have that kind of pet. Even if you don’t know anyone nearby, there are forums and online groups for people who own specific pets, and these can be great sources of both information and personal connection. They may be long distance, but the connections can be just as real, and just as positive!

4. They Offer Unconditional Love

If you have a pet, you know what true love is. They care about you no matter who you are or what you’ve done, and you will always matter to them. Even if you feel unstable in your human relationships, you will never have to question the security of your relationship with your pet.

Even if you have a quieter pet like a gecko or mouse, you can be certain that they love you just as much as a bouncy dog or cuddly cat does. They may show it in different ways, but that doesn’t make it any less real. 

Pets are also an example of how to love better. If we showed the same empathy and compassion to everyone that our pets show us, then the world would be a much happier place. Not only that, but the world would also be a whole lot better if we loved everyone to the same degree that our pets love us. 

Final Thoughts

Yes, pets can be difficult and take a lot of hard work, but that’s part of what makes our relationships with our pets so rewarding. The hard work we put in shows up in a healthy physical, mental, and social state, and creates a loving emotional bond to our pets. The positive energy that pets provide us with speaks for itself, and it’s not something that we should take for granted. 

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Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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