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Don’t let job stress weigh you down

One in four of us has called out sick because we’ve felt stressed and overwhelmed by work. A little stress can be good for you; it can keep you on your toes, ensuring that your job performance is top-notch. But too much tension—especially chronic stress—not only hampers your work performance, it can also harm your health. People who are overcome by job responsibilities succumb to colds and other illnesses more frequently. And chronic stress can raise your risk of developing heart disease: A recent study found that women with high-pressure jobs (like nurses) have a much higher risk of developing heart disease if they constantly feel overwhelmed by work responsibilities. Research has also found that chronic stress can double your risk of having a heart attack.

Tackle work-related stress head-on with healthy habits:

  • Exercise during your lunch break. Working out can improve your mood and lower your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Address your most difficult task of the day early, when you are most refreshed. At the end of the day, when you’re feeling frazzled, do mindless tasks, like filing or photocopying.
  • Take short breaks often throughout your day to recharge your batteries. Stretch or take a five-minute walk outside, if you can.
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and other good-for-you foods instead of going for a chocolate bar when you feel stressed. You may increase your tolerance to stress through a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Try meditation. Many people with stressful jobs use relaxation exercises or meditation techniques to calm themselves. Research has found that meditating for 10 to 20 minutes per day can make it easier to stomach chronic stress.
  • Talk your worries away with a friend or loved one. Discussing your on-the-job problems with someone who is removed from the situation can help you release anger, see the situation from a different angle and get emotional support, which can help you de-stress.