We’re almost halfway through Stress Awareness Month, and last week, we took a somewhat humorous look at the things that stress out Jamaican people. Today, we examine some of the hidden sources of stress in our environments and how we can avoid or work around them.
1. Your computer/tablet/smartphone. For one, staring at a bright screen for hours on end, whether for work or at leisure, causes strain on the eyes and can give you headaches. And your posture as you use these devices can also cause tension in your muscles. According to Dr Erik Peper, director of the Institute for Holistic Healing at San Francisco State University, when looking at electronic screens, “your breathing rate goes up 30 percent, your blinking rate goes way down, and you tend to tighten your arms and shoulders without knowing it.”
Combat the effects of this stressor by taking frequent screen time breaks, and changing your body position every half hour or so. This improves blood flow and eases muscle strain.
2. Your office space. Most office buildings are closed off, allowing in little natural light and substituting air conditioning for natural air flow. The over-bright glare of fluorescent lighting doesn’t help, either. There’s not much that can be done about this, depending on how the office buildings are set up. However, you can take advantage of small breaks or your lunch hour to go outside for some fresh air and a little sunshine.
3. The layout of your personal space. Are you always bumping into pieces of furniture or tripping over that extension cord that’s stretching from one end of the room to the other? It might be time to feng shui or just declutter your environment. Being able to move around freely in your space will make you feel more relaxed. For your office space, if you have any say in the matter, make sure the room is streamlined so you can move around efficiently. Here are some feng shui tips for home and office.
4. Your daily commute. Whether you drive yourself or take the bus or a taxi, it is no fun being stuck in traffic for several hours of the day. Add the unfortunate state of many Jamaican roads, which make the rides bumpy and uncomfortable, and keep car owners forking over cash for repairs, and you have the perfect combo for serious road rage. Taking public transportation means you have to contend with crowded vehicles and/or crazy driving, and are the JUTC buses ever on time? All of these concerns add up to cause tension for just about everyone on the road.
The best solution would be to try to leave home as early as possible, so you can head off the rush hour traffic. If your workplace allows, perhaps you can work out a more flexible way to get your eight hours in, instead of the typical 9-to-5. Who knows, maybe a 7-to-3 might be better for all concerned.
5. Your overly-strenuous workout routine. Working out is great for relieving stress, and can provide an energy boost. However, doing too much in the gym can be a sign of trouble. According to alternative medicine physician Dr Joseph Mercola, over-exercising can leave you feeling perpetually exhausted and sore rather than energized, getting sick easily, feeling emotionally spent, and unable to sleep or needing excessive amounts of sleep. It can even cause you to have a short fuse, which will lead to more stress as your temper will have you in conflict with those around you.
6. Your not-quite healthy diet. According to the UK-based Stress Management Society, certain foods and drinks can trigger or aggravate stress. Examples include:
- Tea, coffee, cocoa, energy drinks
- Fast foods and takeaways
- Butter, cheese
- Meat and shellfish
- Soda, soft drinks and chocolate drinks
- Almonds, macadamias and other nuts
- Coconut oil