How to Keep
Stress Under Control During These Trying Times
Read or listen
to any news report these days and you’re sure to get negative
information: workers being downsized, employees being forced to take
pay cuts, big companies seeking bailout money, and yet another
business closing its doors. With so much negativity dominating the
nightly news reports, it’s no wonder so many people are so stressed
stress does much more than weigh heavy on people’s minds. It also
contributes to lower productivity, increased sickness and a negative
mindset that keeps the spiral going out of control. And if any
company is to survive this economy and see it through to the other
side, they need employees who can effectively deal with stress and
keep it from affecting their daily performance.
If you’re one of
the millions of Americans who feels overly stressed and that your
work life is out of control (and consequently hurting your personal
life), rest assured that you can regain control of your life and
minimize the stress you feel. The following strategies will help.
Focus on your
vision rather than your to-do list:
A vision is
something that takes you on a journey and keeps you pumped up. A
to-do list is something that overwhelms you and causes friction in
your life. Think about it … how many times have you created a to-do
list, only to not complete your outlined tasks? Afterward, you
probably felt like a failure and beat yourself up for being so lazy,
dumb, irresponsible… (you fill in the blank).
The vision you
create should be for yourself personally in terms of who you want to
be in the company or what you want to contribute. Once you’re clear
on that, you can focus on the outcomes of your activities, and not
on the individual tasks themselves. In other words, your vision will
keep you from focusing on the drudgery of to-do tasks and give you a
constant reminder of what you ultimately want to achieve.
For example, if
your vision is to win the company’s top salesperson award, you would
focus on that image or ultimate pay-off rather than all the minutia
of things you must do to attain that award, such as all the cold
calls, prospect meetings, paperwork, etc. Without that clear vision
in mind, the daily grind will stress you out and cause you to lose
focus. So while you still have tasks to do and even to-do lists, you
don’t let the small steps dominate your thinking. By focusing on
your ultimate objective, you’ll stay motivated to take the action
required to reach your goal.
Create a weekly
and monthly calendar:
While the idea
of keeping a weekly and monthly calendar can at first seem
overwhelming, it’s actually an ideal way to organize your time so
you can keep your priorities straight and lower your stress level.
Here’s how it works: Before a new month starts, decide what your
focus will be for the coming month. Perhaps your focus will be to
complete a big project at work or to brand your company. This is
your monthly vision.
Sunday evening write down what you want to accomplish that week that
will lead you to your monthly goal. Block time for those activities
in your weekly calendar. These activities are your priority. In the
timeslots with no activity scheduled, you can put all the other
things you want to do for the week, such as other work tasks,
your non-work hours, be sure to schedule things that bring joy to
your life, such as exercise, spending time with your family,
reading, relaxing with friends, etc. Now you’ve identified your main
focus for the month, have broken down your main tasks into workable
time chunks, and have allowed space for a personal life as well.
Remember, personal time is vital, especially when you’re under
stress. Even if you only have a few minutes for yourself, that time
will restore your energy and keep you motivated. So don’t neglect
Say “no” to the
things that weigh you down:
economic times, many people are afraid to say “no” at work. They
believe that if they refuse to stay late, take on more work, or do a
special project then their boss will fire them. While you always
have to decide what’s best for your personal situation, in most
cases when you say “no” to the things that don’t feel right and that
take away from your wellbeing, you make yourself more effective in
the areas or core strengths that really matter.
For example, if
you say “yes” to every special request your boss or co-workers ask
of you, eventually you’ll be so overworked that you won’t be able to
do anything well. All your work will be mediocre at best, which will
reflect negatively on your performance. However, if you say “no” in
a way that illustrates why saying “no” is the best option, then
you’ll have the inner strength to do key tasks well … and that
positively impacts the company’s bottom line.
So when your
boss asks you to take on another project to your already full plate,
you could say, “I don’t think that me taking this on would be in the
company’s best interest. My plate is full, and if I stretch myself
too thin, all my work will suffer. Let’s see who else may have the
resources to take this on.”
concept also applies to the people in your personal life. When
you’re stressed out, you need to be able to tell your loved ones and
friends “no.” Realize that people will always try to pull your time
away from you with requests such as “Can you baby sit my kids for
the evening?” “Will you drive me to the airport?” “Can I borrow
$100?” If you say “yes” simply because you don’t want to hurt
someone’s feelings, you’ll only end up adding to your stress level.
So say “yes” when you really want to help someone, but say “no” when
the request will put an extra burden on you.
You Can Take
Control of the Stressors in Your Life:
Stress is an
inevitable part of daily life. And while no one will ever be able to
completely eliminate stress from their lives, you can take steps to
minimize the stress you feel so it doesn’t negatively impact your
performance. So don’t let the realities of the country’s economy get
you down. Instead, use this time to get clear on what you want and
to take the steps to make that vision a reality. Before you know it,
you’ll love what you do, your stress level will decrease, and you’ll
be a top performer who gets the respect and recognition you deserve.
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