Best habits to help manage stress in 2022

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With UK Google searches for the ‘signs of burnout’ soaring by 300%, between September 2020 and now, it’s now more important than ever to detect burnout in you and your team.

Burnout has become more pervasive during the pandemic. A Mental Health UK survey found that 46% of UK workers felt more prone to extreme levels of stress now than they did before the Covid-19 crisis. Following these shocking results, we spoke to Christine Macdonald, director of HR and management company The Hub Events, for the best stress alleviating habits to take with us into 2022 and beyond.

Review your daily habits
The first way of minimising stress in the new year is through thinking about what your daily routine has been in the past year. Whilst 2021 was definitely an anomalous year in terms of the pandemic, there is no guarantee that 2022 won’t be more of the same. That’s why it is still important to review past habits and see what works and what didn’t. Some personal habits may be a boon to your mental health, for example, many people took up a small hobby to occupy their time and mind during the various lockdown periods. This period of self-reflection will also let you know which of your habits have had a negative impact on your overall wellbeing and will give you the tools to minimise their impact in the new year.

Sleep
Who has the time to get 8 whole hours of sleep a night? After having your time given over to responsibilities such as commuting, working, cooking and other household responsibilities there’s hardly any time left in the day if you are aiming to get a full 8 hours of sleep. Many people take the lack of responsibility imposed on them in the early hours of the morning to do things for themselves. This is obviously not a sustainable practice. Not only will they be more tired, but it will also exacerbate burnout. Individuals will become more irrational and irritable as this goes on and it will have a detrimental effect on your work and home life.

If having 8 hours of sleep isn’t at all feasible, then the next most important thing is to have a consistent sleep schedule. It takes 3 days for your body to get into a pattern, so by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will do wonders for your energy levels. If time is genuinely an issue then being consistency should be the goal of 2022

Healthy Eating
Take control of your life a bit more by planning and eating meals that you not only enjoy but have health benefits as well. From antioxidants to Zinc, your food needs to contain a variety of vitamins and minerals to function at its fullest. Each vitamin and mineral has its own benefit and a lack of a single one of them will have a detrimental impact on your overall wellbeing. It’s not just what’s in the food that will help but how it’s made. Meal prepping can help you take control of your day and it ensures you have less to worry about.

Exercise
It might seem like a contradiction, but putting your body under physical stress through exercise can alleviate mental stress and will give you more energy. For those with pressing time commitments or are insecure about exercising in public then the best thing to do is short and intense exercise at home. A typical HIIT session can take anywhere between 4 and 15 minutes, whilst doing yoga for as little as 10 minutes a day can bring immense benefits. Both exercises require a small, empty space and a mat. The hardest part is that initial push to get you into the habit of doing small amounts of exercise daily.

Make time to relax
Taking time out is essential to prevent the negative effects that burnout can have. Every day, we all need to take time to replenish and do something we enjoy. This might be going for a walk, listening to our favourite music, going to the gym, or spending time with our friends and family. We all enjoy different things and relax in different ways.

This time can be seen as a time of ‘recovery’ and it is necessary in order to come back to work and perform at our best. Recovery is just as important as any other productive element of our day. So, don’t let your evenings or weekends be taken over by work. Wherever make sure you take time off to relax and decompress.

Reduce your caffeine consumption
Caffeine is a stimulant and for millions of us, it is an essential part of our daily lives. As with everything in life, caffeine should be taken in moderation. If you are finding that you are jittery and anxious all the time then it might be time to cut back. Moreover, if you are finding that you cannot sleep at night, then that might also be a symptom of an overreliance on caffeine. So it might not be the quantity of the caffeine you consume but when in the day you consume it.

Avoid Procrastination
Avoiding procrastination is one of the top new year’s resolutions. Whilst it can help with productivity, it is also good for managing your stress. Staying on top of your priorities means you are not constantly trying to stay above water. Work on the things that need to get done immediately, and give yourself blocks of time where you will work uninterrupted. Working more efficiently within these blocks of time will also give you more free time to truly relax.

Avoid unhealthy habits
One of the more common signs of burnout is engaging with unhealthy coping mechanisms. A study by the Yale University School of Medicine showed that ‘denial, disengagement, self-blame, substance abuse, and venting were associated with greater burnout. Drinking excessively and smoking are two such coping mechanisms.

Create an open environment with your colleagues and employees
During the pandemic, people have felt increasingly isolated from one another. So before you go to your manager, consider talking to a colleague first. After all, many people find talking to their boss intimidating, particularly when it is about something as personal as burnout. A colleague may provide that extra level of support that is needed when you are feeling burned out.

Explaining all your responsibilities to a colleague may help put the amount of work you are doing in context. If your colleague agrees that you have far too much responsibility, then that will give you the additional boost of confidence needed to talk to your manager. Moreover, a colleague could open up about their experience with burnout and provide useful resources that can alleviate your stress. At the very least, opening up to someone will be a boost to your mental wellbeing in itself and could get you ready for that important talk with your manager.

Ultimately, creating that ever-important open environment will allow you to confide in others, alleviate stress and become less burned out.

Learn to ask for help 
Asking for help might sound like the simplest solution in the world, but people do often find it difficult to confide in others when they are going through a tough time. However, asking your manager for help is imperative in ensuring that your physical and mental well-being doesn’t suffer.

If you are worried that your manager will think you are burned out because you are no longer passionate about the job, then don’t. A recent Deloitte survey showed that whilst  87 percent of professionals say they are passionate about their current job, 64 percent say they are frequently stressed. It’s this chronic stress that leads to burnout and is why you should ask for help.

Be confident in the fact that you are not blaming anyone for being burned out and that you are trying to do what’s best for yourself and your team. Working alongside someone who is burned out can put a serious strain on relationships and productivity. So learn to be open in the new year

Put yourself first
Your mental health is incredibly important and should come first. With the increased rhetoric behind mental health and burnout, your manager should be supportive when you come to him with your problem. However, there may come a time when you need to say “No”. If your manager will not prioritise the wellbeing of their employees then you will need to reevaluate and decide what is best for you.

If your manager refuses to help you in any capacity, it may be time to search for new job opportunities. It’s an unfortunate resolution to being burned out, but some managers are unwilling or incapable of providing the support that their employees need. With the ‘Great Resignation’ still being an ongoing issue, there has never been a better time than now to find a career that will boost your mental health and give you the time and space that you need to grow.

 

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    Lisa Carter

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