I Work Too Hard?

One in three of­fice ab­sences are at­trib­uted to stress. But if you re­wire your body’s re­sponse to pres­sure, you can hit the re­lease valve on anx­i­ety

Mens Health (Australia) - - Mind -

1 Cir­cle of Strife When your brain senses a po­ten­tial threat – whether that’s a shad­owy fig­ure or loom­ing dead­line – it floods your blood with adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol, ready­ing the body for fight or flight. Your first course of ac­tion is to put this hor­monal surge to its in­tended use: a 20-minute run will calm ex­cess adren­a­line and ease ten­sion in your mus­cles. 2 Gut Re­ac­tions As your work­load in­creases and your to-do list length­ens, nerves can kill your ap­petite, as stress trig­gers hunger­sup­press­ing hor­mone CRH. Over time, how­ever, most peo­ple find el­e­vated cor­ti­sol does the op­po­site. “Peo­ple eat to re­duce anx­i­ety,” says psy­chol­o­gist Frank Bond. When it’s crunch time at the of­fice, off­set crav­ings with al­monds – their high dose of mag­ne­sium cracks stress. 3 Mind Mat­ters Brain-fog de­scends as stress dis­en­gages the pre­frontal cor­tex, mak­ing it harder to form ra­tio­nal thoughts. If med­i­ta­tion doesn’t come eas­ily to you, fool your brain into for­get­ting about the per­ceived threat in­stead. “You can train your at­ten­tion like a mus­cle,” says Bond. “Sim­ply fo­cus­ing on the lyrics to your favourite song is a pow­er­ful way to take your mind off your con­cerns.” 4 Breathe Easy If the words “pre­sen­ta­tion to the board” make your chest tighten, that’s adren­a­line sig­nalling your heart to raise blood pres­sure in order to ready your mus­cles for a tussle. To re­set your heart rate “fo­cus on your breath – each in­hale, each ex­hale – for a minute or so ev­ery two hours,” sug­gests Bond. 5 First Re­sponse In evo­lu­tion­ary terms, an out-ofhours call from your boss is the 2017 equiv­a­lent of a sabre-toothed tiger, and the threat re­sponse will con­tinue un­til your brain feels the dan­ger has passed. How­ever, Har­vard Med­i­cal School re­search shows that men who reg­u­larly em­ploy mind­ful­ness tech­niques can ex­pe­ri­ence im­proved in­trin­sic re­ac­tions to tense sit­u­a­tions in just eight weeks. Turn­ing off your phone no­ti­fi­ca­tions couldn’t hurt ei­ther.

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