If you find yourself having to spend extra time at work, follow these tips from Vibhu Dhingra, MD, an internal medicine physician with Atrium Health, for maintaining health and wellness.

Your Health, Men's Health, Women's Health | 2 months ago

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If you find yourself having to spend extra time at work, follow these tips from Vibhu Dhingra, MD, an internal medicine physician with Atrium Health, for maintaining health and wellness.

We’ve all been there. A special project that needs your immediate attention just fell into your lap. Or maybe you had to pick up some extra shifts for a coworker who has been out. Your work priorities begin to slowly – or sometimes quickly – bleed into your personal life. It feels like a bad habit following you around and you’d be right. It’s often called job creep and it can repeatedly result in less-than-healthy habits.

Research shows that Americans are working more than most countries, with full-time employed adults averaging a hefty 47 hours a week. Throw an extra helping of email-checking, presentation-creating and project managing on top of that, and you have the perfect recipe for a stress sandwich with a side of headaches, high blood pressure and anxiety.

The good news? You can start taking steps to alter your schedule and find small blocks of time for you. Here are a few things you can do to start making changes and reverse the stressful rhythm of your life.

How to De-Stress at Work and Home

Go for a walk.

Getting a break from your work is a great way to reduce stress and increase productivity. Taking a 15-minute walk is the simplest way to get some exercise, which is vital for your overall health. Boosting your heart rate also relieves stress.

Listen to music.

While you may think that dance music playlist is pumping you up, it’s actually having the opposite effect. Listening to music with a relaxing, slow tempo will reduce stress and help you relax at work.

Make sleep your No. 1 priority.

Without proper sleep cycles, you can easily fall down the path of overeating, feeling unhappy, decreased productivity and reduced sex drive. Even if you’re working 10 to 12 hours a day, a game plan for getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night can dramatically reduce stress and improve your health.

Give your body the best fuel.

One of the easiest changes you can make is cutting out calories from beverages. Drinking water instead of soda, juice, or coffee with sugar and creamer will help curb weight gain. Planning your meals is another way to improve your health and reduce stress. Taking 20 minutes to stop working and eat a healthy lunch will help with anxiety and productivity. Your body is fueled by what you put into it, so finding one hour every few days to plan and cook a couple of healthy meals will have a positive effect on your health and stress levels.

Build a short but intense workout. 

When things get busy around the office, your workout is often the first thing tossed to the wayside. But you can schedule short and intense workouts for the gym or at home. The most important thing is to ensure the time will be uninterrupted. Setting aside 20-30 minutes for moderate-to-high intensity exercise is enough to raise your heart rate, break a sweat and work out your muscles.

Take a vacation.

Did you know that more than half of all Americans leave unused vacation time on the table? In fact, out of every 10 vacation days offered to U.S. workers in 2015, more than 3 days weren't taken. Look ahead and plan a time for vacation. You don’t need to plan a two-week trip. Just a few days away from the office can dramatically reduce your stress levels. Take advantage of your benefits and slip out of the office for a couple of days to recharge your batteries. Your projects will benefit when you return from the break.