A certain amount of stress can lead to better performance and productivity. The flipside, according to Happy Body at Work’s Sharon Richens, is that too much stress can leave us feeling panicked, unable to think clearly or like we’re running on empty.
“The key to managing stress is finding out what makes you tip from coping to feeling overwhelmed,” Sharon said.
“There’s a stress curve,” Sharon said, “You move up the stress curve to high performance and as you go over to the other side of that stress curve it’s a decline in productivity.”
According to Sharon as you increase your stress to a certain point you’ll actually get increased productivity.
“But once you go into what we call overwhelm, it’s a slippery slope,” she said.” When our stress levels are too high decision making is impacted, as is our ability to concentrate and most significantly our ability to rest and sleep well”.
Sharon encourages us to listen to our stress signals.
“When you feel like you’re about to tip over, take steps to reduce the load,” she said, “Check your breathing. If you are breathing short and shallow, chances are you are overstressed.”
You can instantly break the stress by taking a long, slow deep breath.
“This settles your mind and body, relaxes your body, decreases your blood pressure, slows your heart rate and decreases stress hormones,” Sharon said.
“Getting stress out of your body makes a huge difference to how you feel at the end of the day and how well you sleep at night,” Sharon explained. “Getting stress out of your body is one of the most important strategies for managing stress”. “Huff and puff is when our heart rate is elevated so that we can talk but we can’t sing.”
Try climbing a flight of stairs, walking quickly up a steep hill or adding a short sprint in-between telegraph poles on your daily walk.
“Three-to-five minutes of ‘huff and puff’ a day is all you need. Short bursts of ‘huff and puff’ exercise are fantastic for you brain, mood and energy,” Sharon said.
Sharon encouraged individuality “It’s vital that each person take a unique approach to finding the right amount of stress for them”.
Everyone’s built differently and everyone functions differently,” she said, “Embracing moderation and flexibility is one of the keys to a less-stressed life. Find your own balance of what’s right for you, as well as well as what helps you deal with your own stress is critical.”
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Sharon Richens is an experienced Physiotherapist and Wellness Coach with a particular passion for Workplace and overall Wellness. She has been delivering a Corporate Wellness program to over 20,000 participants and have great evidence based on data of the behavioural change created by implementing small changes to moving more, sitting less, sleeping better and coping with stress.
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LinkedIn: Sharon Richens