The problem: Feeling stressed or overworked

Solution: Do you feel you have little control over your work flow? Or so busy you’re often overwhelmed with stress by 10am? In the English Whitehall Study, workers who reported chronic work stress were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health issues such as an increase in belly circumference, high blood pressure and insulin resistance – a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Women are worse off than men; women with chronic work stress were more than five times more likely to be affected.  

“When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release more cortisol, which makes you store fat in case you have to go for a lengthy time without food,” explains Timothy Crowe, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at Deakin University, in Melbourne. “This build-up can occur rapidly in our most active fat cells in the abdomen – where it can predispose you to problems with insulin and diseases like type 2 diabetes. The release of cortisol can also affect hormones that increase appetite. This can lead to comfort eating and make it hard for some people to control their weight.”

Waist protection:
•    When you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit at your desk, close your eyes and take 10 minutes to slow breathe or relax all the muscles in your body from head to toe.
•    Get up 15 to 20 minutes earlier so you’re not racing the clock and arriving at work stressed.
•    Take a lunch break and hit the gym to release some of that tension. You will come back thinking clearer and working more productively.
•    Minimise interruptions so that you don’t waste time. Screen calls and hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your office door for an hour. If you have a busy day ahead, start phone calls by saying, “Sorry, this is just a quick call – I’m on my way to a meeting/appointment.”   
•    Get the important stuff done first so you stress less.
•    Consider joining an organisation where the culture is less pressured.