Stress seems to be an inevitable part of our daily lives. As much as many of us would like to have a low-stress job, this isn’t realistic. The ongoing demands at work, coupled with stressors at home, can lead to allostatic overload. The more stress you experience over an extended time, the worse the allostatic overload. In this article, we will talk more about allostatic overload, what it is, and five tips to help reduce allostatic overload and work stress.
Allostatic overload is defined as the “cumulative burden of chronic stress and life events.” In simplistic terms, it’s when the stressors around you exceed your ability to cope. In most situations, where there’s an allostatic overload, there are poor health outcomes.
Several factors can affect allostatic overload. From work to caregiving at home, if a situation makes you feel stressed, this could lead to overload. There have been many studies conducted to dig into how allostatic overload affects the health of individuals. From female teachers to workers, the overload affects individuals differently, but one thing is clear. It’s not good for the mind or body to experience an extended period of allostatic overload. Over time, this load can increase blood pressure, lipids, glucose, and inflammation, which cumulatively increase health risks. When these cumulative effects of physiological stress become too much, they lead to further health problems, disease, or death. This is why stress plays a role in anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of all physical illnesses.
Ways to reduce work stress
One of the best ways to try and reduce allostatic overload is to develop resilience and coping mechanisms to reduce your stress at work. Sometimes, you may not be able to control everything that happens in your life, but these five coping strategies may help improve your long term health outcomes.
Start your day off right
Even if you’re not a morning person, starting your day off right is a great way to try and reduce stress. If you’re waking up late, scrambling to get your kids and yourself sorted, battling through bad traffic, there is no doubt that you’ll be stressed out even before you step into your office. Try planning your morning in advance, fuel your body and try to look at things with a positive attitude. For example, put on some good music or a podcast to help take your mind off the bad traffic. You might find that this sets you up differently when you walk into your office and help you keep cool throughout your day.
You may feel like you need to juggle a bunch of things to keep everyone around you happy. But is this making you happy? Especially at work, it’s hard to say no when someone needs a hand. However, if this is causing you stress, you need to set boundaries to keep your mental health in check. Glennon Doyle, the author of Untamed, has a great episode on her new podcast “We can do hard things” about setting boundaries. Have a listen.
This is building on our first tip about planning, but staying organized is a great way to reduce stress. Set a calendar invite to remind you of what you’ve got on and write to-do lists so that you keep on top of all the things you need to do. The calendar invites are also a great way for you to schedule in time to look after yourself. Schedule in some self-care amongst all the things you need to do, and it will be a nice treat.
No surprises that this is a tip to help reduce stress. Research has shown that getting some movement in is a great way to help reduce stress. The key is finding something that you like doing. Whether it’s taking a walk outside, going to the gym, a bike ride, or just grabbing coffee and walking around the block while catching up with friends.
Have positive relationships
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of stress comes from the negative and toxic people around you. Whether it’s at work or home, romantic or plutonic, make sure that the people around you contribute positively to your life. If they’re not, it’s time for you to reassess the relationship. You need to think about what value this relationship is bringing to your life. Is the stress worth it? Probably not.
All in all, high stress levels are going to negativel impact your health in the long term. The longer you operate at an elevated level of stress, the higher the allostatic load, decreasing your mental and physical health. Give these five coping strategies a go to reduce your work stress. You may find a new lease on your life!