The biggest threat to workplace health is not germs or back problems. It’s something far more insidious and harder to quantify—stress. According to 2016 research, 70% of those surveyed cited stress as one of their top five work hazards, 22% higher than the second-place danger, bullying and harassment.
( Source: Statista)
Because of the long hours digital marketers work and other factors, digital marketers are in particular danger of suffering from work-related stress. It’s not uncommon for social media specialists, email marketers, copywriters, SEO specialists, and strategists to be checking and answering emails, monitoring Twitter and Facebook, and generally being “on” at all hours of the day, even when lying in bed at night. When the work-life balance scale is tipped so far on the side of work, it’s no surprise that stress can result.
And when stress does result, the dangers can stretch far beyond simple feelings of tension—stress can play a part in a wide range of physical problems, emotional disorders, and substance misuse.
Short-term physical symptoms include headaches, upset stomachs, chest pain, and high blood pressure. Over time, stress can lead to long-term physical ailments such as chronic hypertension, diabetes, and heart problems.
Emotional disorders triggered by long-term stress include depression and anxiety, and stress can lead to the overuse of alcohol, tobacco, and narcotics as a coping mechanism, sometimes leading to longer-term problems with addiction.
With all these dangers in mind, it’s important to find ways to alleviate stress and its effects on your body and your mind. Improve your personal health and, as a result, your workplace health, by incorporating some or all of the seven tips below.
Make sure you’re sleeping enough
Conventional wisdom tells you that you need a good eight hours of sleep a night. That’s not exactly true; seven to nine hours is ideal for adults between the ages of 16 and 64, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s latest calculations.
If you’re a digital marketer, you might feel that cuts into your productive time, but insufficient sleep impairs your cognitive performance, which can cause you to be less productive and less effective at your job—leading to more stress. Insufficient sleep also has a wide range of physical and psychological effects, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
Getting more sleep may be a matter of just setting aside the time to do so. It may mean getting a new, comfortable mattress. It may mean changing more habits than just your bedtime, as shown in our next few tips.
Unplug and disconnect
Getting to sleep means more than closing your eyes—it means turning off your mind. That can be hard when your tendency as a digital marketer is to always be plugged in and connected, and the easy access our phones and tablets provide to the online world makes it tempting to check Instagram one more time or retweet just one more tweet lying in bed. Suddenly, it’s two in the morning and you’ve already passed the point of getting a good night’s sleep, so why not one more cat video?
Try leaving the phones, tablets, computers, and TVs out of the bedroom. Or, if you must have your phone nearby in case of an emergency, plug it in to charge out of your immediate reach. Just because your phone is plugged in doesn’t mean you have to be. Once you get used to it, you’ll find it’s easier to get to sleep without all those distractions.
Minimize the effects of blue light
Phones, TVs, tablets, and computers in the bedroom are not only distracting—blue light screens can also affect the circadian rhythm of your body that is essential for a good night’s sleep. Avoid looking at blue light screens for two to three hours before bed—another reason to disconnect and unplug—or if you must get some nighttime work done on one of your devices, use blue light blocking glasses.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
The most widely consumed psychotropic drugs worldwide are caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. They are so widely consumed that many people don’t even view them as drugs, and they are often accepted as methods for stress relief, with smokers saying a cigarette relieves stress, coffee-lovers making jokes along the lines of “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee in the morning,” and office workers everywhere using happy hours as a way to decompress.
In many instances, though, these popular crutches increase stress rather than relieve it, as caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and alcohol is as well in small doses. Cutting these out altogether, or at least using them in moderation, can help you reduce your stress and increase your personal health as well.
Get regular exercise
Physical activity reduces stress, and regular exercise also has the added benefit of improving your physical and mental health. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, either—you can fit a lunchtime walk into your busy work day, or consider riding a bike to work instead of driving or taking public transportation.
Like exercise, meditation is something that, if you make a conscious—or mindful, wink wink—effort, can be easily inserted into your busy daily routine. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, meditation helps reduce stress and negative emotions and can help to deal with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. There are many types of meditation, some of which can be performed anywhere—even at the office.
Talk to a professional
All of the above tips are ways to minimize stress in your daily life, but stress can also be a cause or symptom of anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders. Talk to your doctor about your stress and the effects it has on you. If you feel physically or mentally unwell, it’s always a good idea to talk to a professional who can recommend treatment and put you on the right path for stress relief and your mental and physical well-being.
Digital marketers love the fast pace and always-on nature of their jobs, but when stress creeps up, it’s never a bad idea to slow down and keep in mind the tips outlined above. Sometimes, that tweet can wait till morning—after a good night’s sleep, of course.
About the Author: A Nashville transplant living in Salt Lake City, Kelsey is a digital marketer who promotes brand awareness for clients, and a freelance writer interested in covering everything from innovative tech to personal and family wellness.