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Work stress affects individuals differently and is not necessarily negative. It can even be conducive to performance and some people thrive on it. Others, however, may struggle to cope with it. When it becomes extreme, it can affect the immune, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and central nervous systems. Here are five ''immediate'' techniques to practise to help reduce stress:
• Organisational skills – If your office surroundings are well organised, you will not be faced with the anxiety of misplaced objects and mess. Regularly clean out and sort through the paperwork that accumulates over time. Add personal touches like family photographs; going back to the time or place when the photo was taken immediately reduces stress.
• Social network/family support system – Sharing your concerns or feelings with another person helps relieve stress. Your social network may include your co-workers, friends or family.
• Breathing techniques – There are several breathing techniques that you can practise; for example, abdominal breathing which involves putting one hand on the chest and the other on the stomach and taking a deep breath through the nose ensuring the diaphragm inflates. Repeating this slowly 10 times immediately alleviates stress.
• Progressive muscle relaxation – Starting with the muscles in the face, completely tense all muscles and hold the tension for several seconds then completely relax those muscles for the same period. Work through the body (neck, shoulders, torso) until every part is relaxed.
• Go for a walk/move your body – This can benefit you both in the short and long terms. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins or the ''feel good'' chemicals within 30 minutes from the start of the activity. Also, initially distancing yourself from a situation by going for a walk can give you a different perspective so you can return with a new frame of mind to reassess it.
• Try some breathing techniques at work to calm your body down
• Put things into perspective; work makes us forget the vital things
• Organise your desk and put framed pictures of your loved ones
Source: Nicola Turner, Special to Jobs & Careers
The writer is Organisational Psychologist, HRI&C