Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stress relief in the Workplace

Check out these ideas from Lifestyle Councillor Beth King on how to relief stress at work.
Relieving stress at work is something that most people wish they could do and while a person may not be able to reduce it 100% there are products and things you can bring in that will help to lessen the stress. It probably isn't possible to change the furniture or color of the walls but there are products that can be brought in that will not change the decor or structure of the work place.  Listed below are just some of the products that are easy and affordable.

1.  Headphones.  These can be used with your ipod or any type of MP3 player and possibly used with your computer.  Listening to music or nature sounds can be relaxing a a great way to reduce stress.
2.  White noise machines.  These often have options such as birds chirping, waves crashing or wind blowing, all of which can be relaxing yet not distracting.  These are available at stores such as Target, Walmart and many on line stores including
3.  Stress relief toys.  These are bendable toys, soft balls to squeeze and even small games that serve not only as stress relief but a distraction for a few minutes which can bring relief.  Many office supply stores carry these as well as online stores such as  They are inexpensive and can be put in a drawer or carried around easily.
4.  Items that have moving magnetic balls, sand, etc. can be relaxing when you watch them and can provide a very similar affect as meditation.
Not only can these products be purchased easily and inexpensively but bringing in some of the comforts of home can also help with stress relief.  Think about the number of hours most spend at their job compared to the amount of time spent in the home.  It's sad but true that often times, people spend more hours in their office at their desk than they do at home so why not bring decorative items in?  A nice pretty desk lamp can not only offer additional lighting but make the space more attractive and therefore, more appealing to be in.  
Scents are also shown to reduce stress and even change a mood and give energy and clear thinking.  There are many aromatherapy products such as scented oils, reed sticks and even gel sticks that can be purchased inexpensively at most stores selling home goods, including grocery stores.
Pictures from home, of loved ones, family, sunsets or anything else that reminds one of the things they love outside of the office can reduce stress and give a feeling of peace and well being.
Since exercise is a great stress reducer, exercise bands can be used at the desk along with small hand held weights.  There are several sites on line, such as that offers videos of exercises that can be done sitting down.  Take a 15 minute break and do a mini work out to relieve stress and energize.  
Sometimes something as simple as paper and colored pencils or even crayons to doodle on and color with can also bring instant stress relief.  These things are minimal in cost, easy to carry and will not create distraction or interruptions to other co-workers.   Try to combine a few of the ideas listed above and see how not only will you be reducing stress but will be spending time in an environment that is more comfortable and motivating.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Top 10 Causes of Stress

We all experience stress. What may be stressful to me, may not bother you at all. Although we are all very different, there are certain common stressors that cause us all anxiety, just on varying levels of severity. According to the Livestrong Foundation, the following are the top 10 causes of stress.
Childhood Trauma

Some individuals experience long-term stress as a result of a traumatic childhood. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, milestone research in 1998, found that difficult emotional experiences as a child can cause physical stress on the body throughout life. Children who live in abusive homes, or who grow up living with an alcoholic or drug abuser often suffer more psychological stress throughout adulthood.

Death of a Loved One

The Holmes-Raye Social Readjustment Rating Scale shows that the death of a spouse can be one of the most stressful events a person can face. Stress is made worse when a couple owes a lot of debts and the remaining spouse must worry about finances on top of grieving the loss of a spouse. Issues can be compounded even more if someone loses a spouse while there are still minor children living at home.


Divorce is another leading cause of stress among men and women, this according to the Holmes-Raye scale. In addition to dealing with a variety of stressful emotions, divorce usually means that one or both spouses must leave their home. Individuals also may be dealing disagreements involving division of property, finances, child support and custody issues.


Finances, particularly mortgage foreclosures, are another leading cause of stress ranking at the top of the Holmes-Raye stress assessment scale. People who live in poverty, and individuals who face overwhelming debt or bankruptcy usually experience high levels of stress.


Work-related stress is common among men and women who have demanding jobs and work long hours. Workers also tend to be more stressed during poor economic times when they worry about layoffs or a reduction in hours.


Personal health issues can be stressful on both children and adults. Working to get well, worrying about medical costs or dealing with an unexpected health crisis or chronic illness can all bring on stress. The sad part is that stress itself contributes to disease. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that within the next 10 years, stress-related conditions like depression will rank as the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

Personal Relationships

Everyone is stressed at times by personal relationships, even when relationships are basically good. Couples argue, parents and children fight and occasionally conflict among friends or co-workers can create stresss

Chronically Ill Child

Parents who have a child with a serious health problem or injury frequently are under a great deal of stress. They worry about the recovery of their child, and may find it difficult to see their child suffering or in pain. There can be financial worries associated with a child's illness as well.


Pregnancy, too, can be a stressful event. This is particularly true of pregnancies which were not planned, or pregnancies that result in serious complications for the mother, child or both. Another problem is that sometimes couples realize that they are not as ready financially or emotionally for a child as they thought they were


Dangerous situations such as fires, automobile accidents or being the victim of crime can cause stress. Any hazardous event that is out of the ordinary for an individual can cause either short- or long-term physical or emotional stress.

Do you feel this article has missed any other life stressers? Please add your comments.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Check out this interesting article I found on the links between rest, relaxation and stress from the Stress Management website.

   When many people are faced by a stressful situation at work, they respond with complete commitment, by working intensely hard at resolving it. To do this, they may work all hours, cancel vacations and cut back on sleep, all to make more time to tackle the problem.
   If this is short-lived, then negative effects will be minimal and success will often be spectacular. However, if this level of hard work is sustained for a long time without relief, people increasingly risk ill-health and 
    We rest and sleep because we need to. Rest is what we do to let stress subside. Rest at the end of a day, and at the end of a week, helps us to calm down.
   Doing fun things that we enjoy in our leisure time compensates us for the stress we experience at work, bringing some balance back into life. This is particularly important if we routinely experience unpleasant levels of stress.
   A good way of getting rest and reducing long-term stress is to take up an enjoyable, non-rushed sport or hobby. If you spend all your working day competing, then can be very pleasant to be completely non-competitive for some of your free time. Slow physical activities such as sailing or walking are good for this, as are others where there is little or no pressure for performance. Reading novels, watching television or socializing can also be very restful.
   Vacations are particularly important, and you really do need to take these. Where possible, take two weeks off rather than just one week: A common observation that people make is that they really do not start to relax properly until the end of their first week of vacation.
   Make sure that you take your vacations and that you use them to relax. Also, make sure that you get enough good quality rest during the week, so that you can keep on enjoying life to its fullest.
   On average, people need around eight hours sleep a night (although this can vary between three hours and eleven hours, depending on the person and his or her age).
   If we are regularly short of sleep, then our concentration and our effectiveness suffer and our energy levels decline. We have all seen and experienced this.
   This diminishes our effectiveness in our job, and can therefore increase stress: As our concentration wanders, we start to make mistakes. As our energy declines, we become less proactive in what we do, reducing our control over events. This means that a situation that is already difficult and stressful can become worse, needing even more sacrifice to bring it back under control.
   Make sure you get enough sleep. If you have become used to being tired all the time, you will be amazed by how sharp and energetic you will feel once you start sleeping normally.


When we are stressed and anxious, we can often find it difficult to get to sleep as thoughts keep on whizzing through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

If you find this is the case:
· Make sure that you stop doing mentally demanding work several hours before coming to bed – give your brain time to calm down before you try to sleep.
· Try reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes, again to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that are worrying you.
· Write persistent thoughts and worries down in a notebook and then put them out of your mind. Review the notebook in the morning and take action if appropriate.
· Keep the same bedtime. Let your body and mind get used to a predictable routine.
· Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Some people find that they sleep badly if they drink coffee or cola after 4pm. Others find that if they drink alcohol to excess, they wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep.

For more information on this topic and others, log onto
Here are a few things I have found that work for me when trying to wind down and get a good night's sleep.
1) Turn off the tv - I found I fell asleep faster and had a more restful sleep when I wasn't concentrating on what was on television.

2) Enjoy a cup of hot water and lemon - This simple beverage always seems to relax me.

3) Enjoy a hobby - I have always found that ending my day doing something I enjoy always puts me in a good mood.

Need help finding a hobby? Try baking or yoga. Check out these blogs, they have lots of great ideas!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Alternatives to stress drinking

We are all guilty of it. After a long, hard day, we reach for a cold beer, cocktail or glass of wine to ease what ails us. After a drink or two, the tension subsides and relaxation sets in.

So what is it about alcohol that creates relaxation?

Recent studies conducted at the University of Chicago, USA, suggest that stress and alcohol ‘feed’ each other. In some test subjects, alcohol consumption was found to decrease the hormone cortisol, which the body releases in response to stress, thus prolonging the feelings of tension and anxiety associated with stress. While there is this correlation, researcher Emma Childs strongly warns that while the numbers do support the link between alcohol and stress relief, Childs adds that it is often hard to separate alcohol’s effects upon stress reactions from its effects on the perceptions of how stressful an experience is.  

While I see nothing wrong with enjoying an alcoholic beverage, I encourage you to try these helpful techniques to (instaed of turning to alcohol) to encourage relaxation and tranquility after a hard day

Get Moving!– physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins. This will also improve your mood.

Deep Breathing – deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Deep breathing sends a message to the brain to calm down.

Phone a Friend – talking aloud makes thoughts real, and allows the brain to process these thoughts and revert to a calmer place.

More information on the above mentioned study can be found at

Friday, February 15, 2013

5 Simple Steps to Stress Reduction

Next time you find yourself in s stressful situation, consider trying these helpful tips.

5 Simple Steps to Stress Reduction

1) Find a Refuge
·       Remove yourself from the stressful situation
·       Find a quiet place where you can be alone. Any spot will do

2) Stop and Breathe
·       Close your eyes and take deep breaths
·       Deep breaths will help you gain composure and put some distance between you and the stressful situation

3) Take you physical and emotional pulse
·       Allow your heartbeat to slow down
·       Identify the dominant emotion you are feeling: Anger? Sadness? Frustration?

4) Search for the source of the emotion
·       What triggered your feelings?
·       What can you do to respond to the source of your stress?
·       In any situation, there are factors you can change and factors beyond your control
·       Focus only on the factors you can change

5) Make a Decision to Change
·       Before leaving your refuge, make a decision to change at least one factor which contributed to your stress
·       If you are uncertain about what or how to change, make a decision about where to turn for help

By following these simple steps, one can gain clarity and calmness in any situation.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Does Healthy Stress Exist?

Generally we associate stress with negativity, but actually it can be good for us too. According to Australian doctor Hans Seyle, considered the founder of stress awareness; healthy stress is a natural part of life. as we need a certain level of stimulation to achieve tasks and perform daily tasks
So what is considered healthy stress?
The easiest way to think about healthy stress is to think of it as temporary. Stress associated with a task at work, during an athletic event, or having to make a quick decision in a hectic traffic situation can all be considered “healthy” as they promote stimulization.   

Long term stressful situations such as illness or financial hardship are when stress can become toxic to one’s well being. While these stresses can sometimes be unavoidable, you can control more than you think.
While some stressful situations are beyond our control; death, natural disaster and life changing events such as divorce, some are not. Learning to limit ourselves within the situations we can control can serve to eliminate some excess stress from our lives.

For example, if your goals for 2013 are to upgrade your car to a newer model, pay off your OSAP loan and then buy your first home, you may want to reconsider. While all these goals may better your social standing, they may be too much financially. Tackling three major financial goals can put a lot of unnecessary strain on your finances and you! Moreover, it is always good to save a bit of money as well. Please refer to my colleague's blog for financial tips -

Instead, choose only one financial goal for the year. If you find yourself ahead and accomplish your first financial goal only 6 months into the year, by all means bring on the next! Working toward a single financial goal will keep you focused as you reach a realistic goal. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stress and Career Choice

One of the first things I was told as a Public Relations student is what a hectic and time demanding career Public Relations can be. After graduation, I would be injected into a fast-paced, intense and often stressful environment. I would have to deal with crisis; be able to think critically and quickly and always be on my toes. HOW STRESSFUL!
To ease my mind, I decided to do a bit of research-there have to be a more stressful career choice than PR. Interestingly enough; I stumbled upon the top 5 most stressful jobs on’s business section.

Any guesses?

1. Enlisted Military Personnel
2. Military General
3. Firefighters
4. Commercial Pilot
5. PR executive

Reading this list helped put things into perspective for me. Suddenly my career choice didn’t seem so stressful after all. While of course my chosen career path comes with its own set of stresses, these pale in comparison to what others’ career choices entail. Being responsible directly or indirectly for human life must be an intensely stressful burden.

So how do they cope?
Among the most effective treatments for those in these high stress careers was outside social support. A study within the 2009 edition of The Journal of Social Change concluded that those working in very intense environments such as policing and firefighting would find the most stress relief by utilizing such services as the talk therapy and a regular fitness program. Moreover, these strategies for stress relief have long term physical health benefits; and have possibly been linked to preventing heart attack and PTSD (Journal for Social Change; 2009).

While its clear what the obvious stressors are in professions such as policing and firefighting....please feel free to comment on what the stressors are in your profession and how you deal with them.