for Busy Workdays
By Linda Nacif
the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Then a morning meeting, where you
feast on stale coffee and donuts. After that, you look down at your
to-do list, which is filled with staff meetings, potential client
lunches and an upcoming conference for your industry. Add to that,
the piano recital for your daughter and your son’s weekend soccer
game, which leaves no time for that dental appointment you
desperately need. If your schedule sounds as stressful as this,
you’re not alone.
workers have an increased workload, while also trying to keep a
balance between home life and work life. For many, the stress is
just too much. It continues to build, until they feel overwhelmed.
Soon that stress turns into a cold or the flu or indigestion. Yet
after we take our pills and see the doctor, we continue to do too
much, worry too much and feel pressured and we get sick again. This
time it might be more serious: our blood pressure, cholesterol and
sugar levels may go up and we might even become depressed. This
negative cycle can continue for many years and may even lead to more
serious life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer. Until one day
the cycle stops – but so do our hearts.
If only we had
known that by worrying, getting angry, or doing too much we
activated what is known as the “stress response.”
If only we
would have known this non-specific reaction to stress creates an
excess of adrenaline, which is the “fight or flight” response whose
purpose is to keep us in a state of alertness and tension.
If only our
doctors would have explained to us about the hormone cortisol that
wreaks havoc on our bodies and minds.
If only we had
been given alternatives to the way we dealt with the inevitability
If only we
could do done things differently. But would we?
Although we do
not want to avoid stress completely, because it is a condition of
life itself, we need to know when it reaches dangerous levels in our
body and prevent it from harming us. The following are seven
sure-fire ways to stay in control of stress in the office and
positive meaning to everything that happens to you.
It is the
meaning, not the event, that causes your body to secrete those
harmful hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. If you are dealing
with an unrealistic deadline, think about how happy your client
will be if they receive the document on time. By deciding to
give a positive meaning to everything that happens to you, 90%
of stress will be eliminated.
your fights intelligently. Very few things in life are worth
fighting over. That parking spot near the office door – is it
really worth fighting over with your colleague? Save your stress
and energy for an emergency situation, when you really need it.
Don’t waste it on a colleague who wants to pick a fight over the
copier or someone who cuts you off in the parking lot. Ask
yourself if it’s worth a fight and if anything will change. If
the answer is “no,” then why get your adrenaline going to
prepare for a fight? In some cases, the “flight” response might
be more stressful. So, state your need, set your boundaries and
be on your way.
your body and be kind to yourself. We all have different
signals that tell us we are reaching our breaking point. For
some it is a headache, for others it is indigestion. For some it
is insomnia, while yet others experience depression. These are
wake up calls for you to curtail whatever it is that is causing
you stress. Meanwhile, do an activity that you like! If you’re
at work, take a break and walk around the courtyard or even the
parking lot. If you’re at home, watch a funny movie, take a walk
on the beach, or re-connect with a loved one. It’s okay to miss
an aerobic class or the workplace cocktail party or a visit with
your in-laws. Everything will wait but your health.
your individual rhythm. Some people not only can, but need to
do many things at the same time. They thrive on stress. Others
need to take their time and smell the roses on the way. Know
yourself and respect your own rhythm. If you work better under
pressure and with a deadline, then use that to your advantage.
If you like working in complete peace, without colleagues
talking or outside noise disturbing you, find a quiet place to
finish up that project. If the turtle used the rabbit’s pace it
would kill him and vice versa. Think about times when things
have flowed for you, when you were most productive and
creative. What were you doing? How did you feel? And now
remember when you were pushing yourself to do too much or too
worry about the “what if’s”!
Very few things are worth getting
sick over. Most of the time we create scenarios in our mind
that never come into fruition. Worrying about something that is
yet to happen is like watching TV. It pulls you in and keeps
you occupied for hours, days and years. If you are always
worrying about what you don’t want to happen, how will you make
room for what you do want to happen? The antithesis of worry is
trust. You can’t trust and worry at the same time. It’s your
choice: worry and stress or trust and peace!
your coping skills.
As you change and your life changes with
you, what worked when you were twenty might not when you are
forty and less when you are sixty. Maybe it’s time to learn to
meditate, or maybe the answer is to exercise less. The solution
might be as simple as traveling more or simplifying your life.
your health plan.
Exercise moderately, eat small but nutritious
meals five times a day, drink 8 glasses of water and sleep at
least 7 hours. Create play and fun time, and stop any habits
that you know will eventually cause harmful stress on your body.
Even at work, it’s important to keep up a healthy routine. Bring
some bottled water and fresh fruit to snack on. Say “no” to that
After all is
said and done, the most important advice is to know thy self. What
is a stressor (the cause of stress) for one, can be the elixir of
life for another. Once you know what makes you happy and what makes
you sad, what causes you to want to flee or fight, follow it. By
being yourself and understanding your individual needs, you will
stay in control of the stressors and give yourself more energy and
motivation to unleash the creativity and productivity within.
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