Stress might seem to be part of the American way of life, note the team behind Global Connections, Inc. and Global Discovery Vacations. In 2012, about 20 percent of people surveyed reported extremely high levels of stress, between 8 and 10 on a 10 point scale, according to the American Psychological Association. The majority of people surveyed noted that they were working to reduce their stress levels and less than 40 percent felt that they were succeeding in doing so.
High or even moderate levels of stress on a regular basis can negatively impact a person’s mental and physical health. Stress leads to sleepless nights, missed meals and feelings of anger or irritability. But, there is a way past the stress, from taking a few minutes to check in with yourself to leaving it all behind for a period of time.
Take a Micro Break
Sometimes, you just need to unplug for a few minutes to cut your stress levels. If you are starting to feel as though you are in a pressure cooker and have a number of deadlines and expectations weighing down on you, often the best thing to do is disconnect. When you come back to work, you will feel somewhat refreshed and might have a better perspective on the tasks at hand.
What counts as taking a micro break? Anything that lets you take a deep breath and blow off some steam. Some people find that having a short tea break and enjoying a soothing, warm cup of green tea, helps. Green tea is a good source of L-theanine, which is thought to have relaxing effect on the body.
Another way to take a micro break is to enjoy a few minutes of deep breathing. When you’re stressed and on-edge, your breathing becomes more shallow, which causes your heart rate and blood pressure to spike. Slow down, literally, and take a deep breath to calm yourself down. Try inhaling through the nose for a count of five, then out through the nose or mouth for another count of five.
You can also try going somewhere else to get a quick break in during the day. Even if it means standing in the middle of a bathroom stall, getting away from your desk or office environment for a few minutes can help you reset your clock and adjust your stress down.
Stop Doing More
Plenty of people feel the need to do just one more thing before they go home for the day or before they power down their laptop. If that describes you, you need to stop. Constantly trying to do something more before you go home or stop working disrupts your sleep and increases your stress, Women’s Health reports.
To keep yourself from feeling compelled to do more than you need to, make a list of tasks for the day and stick to it. It can even be a good idea to include “relax” or “turn off laptop by 7pm” on your list, so that you have a clear cut end of your work day.
Go on Vacation
Vacation, a real vacation, has become a rare thing in American culture these days. In 2011, Business Insider noted that just 34 percent of Americans took a vacation. Even when people do go on vacation, they often spend part of it at work, answering emails or taking calls on their smartphones.
But, the benefits of a vacation are numerous. Michelle Washburn, Human Resources Manager at Global Connections, Inc., the travel agency powering Global Discovery Vacations points out, “Modern working life can take an enormous toll on your body and your mind. Many people find that vacations are a highly effective way to reduce stress, boost positivity, and increase productivity.”
Reports back up the team at Global Discovery Vacations. A survey from SUNY/Oswego found that men between the ages of 35 and 57 who vacationed yearly cut their risk of death by 20 percent each year. Getting away from it all also helps you perform better when you get back to the office. Business Insider reports that the 34 percent of workers who do take vacations tend to come back to work more refreshed, and in turn, more productive.
While not for everyone, planning a vacation can help many people feel more relaxed and happy. But, there is also help available for people who don’t enjoy vacation planning.
“If you find the idea of planning a vacation stressful, you should treat yourself to a vacation planned by professionals,” Lori Smith, Global Discovery Vacations Travel Agency Manager from Global Connections, Inc, “Your options will include all-inclusive packages that take care of travel, food, and recreation for you so you don’t have to spend time stressing over plans and itineraries. A cruise can be a way not only to get to a new and exciting location, but enjoy the process of getting there.
Vacation time is limited for most workers in the US, so it’s worth it to make the most of it. A cruise is a “great way to make the most of your limited vacation time instead of being stuck on a plane, waiting to arrive,” Smith points out.