Pick-Me-Ups at Work don’t pick you up when you are in Stress!
Cups of hot tea several times a or coffee, day amidst your hectic executive hours, a still drink after a grueling day at work, a smoke whenever you can at your workplace, candy or chocolate in between those busy hours— temptations too tough to resist for the workaholics. Habits as natural as breathing need to change now! Stop and think before you reach for those cups to bust your stress.
How stress affects you?
Even mild stress affects our body systems— the brain is the first organ to change. Normally, vital chemicals carry messages between brain cells. ‘Happy messengers’ (serotonin, noradrenalin, and dopamine) carry happy, upbeat messages while ‘Sad messengers’ carry unhappy messages. Usually, our nerve centers receive a balanced input from both types of messengers and life runs evenly. However, during stress, the happy messengers fail to work. Serotonin— the first happy messenger to fail during stress works to set our body clock and ensures that we sleep easily and soundly, and wake up refreshed. The first sign of too much stress is thus the inability to get a restful night’s sleep due to work pressures. The reduction in noradrenalin, when one is stressed, leads to an increased feeling of fatigue, lethargy and lack of all energy. Lowered levels of dopamine reduce one’s pleasure in life.
Chocolate, Caffeine and Cigarettes… the 3 C’s of Stress!
Pick-me-ups restore the supply of happy messengers to the brain— but only temporarily. The inherent appeal of candies, chocolate and sweets make sugar the most popular pick-me-up. Caffeine, which is second most widely used, is a brain active drug found not only in coffee, but also in chocolates, sodas and teas. Alcohol helps us sleep and increases our sense of wellbeing. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco and snuff contain nicotine, a potent pick-me-up. Often, these pick-me-ups are combined— a chocolate bar contains both sugar and caffeine; Bailey’s Irish Cream combines sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Bringing You Down!
Unfortunately, pick-me-ups do not work very well in the long run. Few of us realize that we’re actually walking a tight rope, balancing our stress on the one hand and a variety of pick-me-ups on the other. Face it— using pick-me-ups is a bad idea and here’s why.
It leads to binging: When the brain is starved of happy messengers, the effect of a pick-me-up is enormous. Thus, while a normal person resorting to an alcoholic beverage may find pleasure in it, a stressed-out worker begins to develop a ‘high’, thus resorting to bingeing and eventually drinking herself till unconscious. Have you ever noticed that eating just one piece of chocolate is never enough, especially when you are stressed?
It always causes a rebound: When you eat a bar of chocolate, you’re giving yourself a big boost of sugar and caffeine. The sugar high quickly enhances the happy messenger levels; however, the subsequent sugar low— causing lack of energy, fatigue, aches and illness— is equally fast. Thus, you begin an almost roller-coaster ride of feeling up and then down! Most pick-me-up users are on a constant up-and-down feeling.
They have side effects: Excessive caffeine can cause abnormal heart rhythms. Heavy tobacco use damages the lungs and arteries and eventually causes cancer. Excessive drinking puts you at a risk of liver failure, or severe bleeding complications. Heavy doses of illegal drugs can cause convulsions, the possibility of overdose, or even death.
Identify the pick-me-ups you as an individual and your colleagues at workplace have got accustomed to.
- Set a limit on your consumption no matter how busy you are. Set a tight schedule for your eating habits and make sure you follow them.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies as well as foods high in complex carbohydrates and forget not to carry a power packed lunch box along.
- Adopt any physical exercise for 30 minutes five times a week. Cheat some quality time during your lunch breaks for warm-ups and light flexes.
- Try deep breathing exercises when you feel excessively stressed out and no one is around.
- Use a wonder cube as your paper weight on the work desk and try solving it when you’re over-stressed.
- If possible, use the staircase instead of those elevators.
So Symphonites, begin today and feel the difference! 🙂