Eleven Ways to Control Stress on the Job
By Dale Collie
heating up. We're all feeling the pinch of hiring freezes and
information overload. Workplace stress is increasing right along with
the workload. Headaches are turning into migraines, back pains
are driving us to the chiropractor, and minor irritations are causing
tempers to flair.
even taking its toll on the bottom line. Stress is driving up
the cost of health care and we can see a huge impact in things like
tardiness, absenteeism, personnel turnover, and accidents. The
annual price tag of stress in corporate America is more than $150 billion.
forecasters tell us we can expect more of the same, we all need our
jobs, so we need to find ways to control the stressors that are
affecting our health and productivity. Here are 11 ways you can
keep your cool and minimize the impact of stress on your life.
own job - When poor the work habits of others create stress,
remember why you're there. Pay attention to your own job.
You will not be rated on the performance of others, but the boss will
note the quality of your work. Stay focused on the job you were
hired for and let management deal with improving the department or the
company. Don't get stressed about things that are not your
- Regardless of company expectations, you can alleviate a lot of your
stress by organizing your workspace and getting a firm grasp on the
work that must be done. Even if you have to pay for it yourself,
get the tools needed to organize your effort, such as files,
furniture, PDAs, software, and training. Work with your boss to
prioritize projects and routine tasks. Only get concerned about
unfinished work if the boss gives it a priority. You'll never
get everything done, so pick the most important and file everything
else in an easy to reach file drawer.
- It's important to maintain your supervisor's comfort level, so
meet with them as often as necessary to keep them informed of projects
and progress. Give them updates the way they want them (email,
memos, briefings, etc.), and persist in getting the feedback that is
so important in reducing stress. Use this same strategy with
those who give you information or products to do your job and those
who depend on what you give them. Good communication is
essential for good stress control.
- Avoid stressful interruptions by controlling your schedule and your
communications. Establish times for meeting with those who want
information from you and hold them to it. The more persistent
you are, the more organized they will be. Handle phone calls and
respond to email during specific times. Develop a list of people
and events that disrupt your job and work with each until it is under
Time - Family situations are among the greatest stressors at work.
There's an old axiom that says, "If momma ain't happy, ain't
nobody happy." It's true. Avoid future problems by
prioritizing family time on your schedule and stick to it. Get
professional help if you're unable to resolve sticky situations.
- More than 80% of all doctor's visits are stress-related.
Those who find time to exercise, reduce stress, strengthen their
immune system, and improve their well-being are much more effective
than those who do not. Do a little research and talk with the
experts to find out what fits your needs. Make exercise part of
your work schedule if possible; don't let it cut into family time.
Regular exercise can add years to your own life and make you more
productive for your employer.
- Proper nutrition is a key to stress control. The US Army
recognizes proper nutrition as a critical element in controlling
stress among combat soldiers and you must admit, your job is sometimes
as stressful as combat. Get information to improve nutrition.
You'll have to make some deliberate changes because our eating habits
are affected by our culture, the expectations of others, and
inadequate knowledge about what makes a proper diet. Learn what
is needed and make a plan.
Take charge of your sleep habits in the same way you work on your
eating habits. Sleep deprivation is a major stressor by itself
and it adds to the problem with other stressful events. Cut out
the late night television. Quit taking work home from the
office. Change the pattern of your weekend parties. Get
some new friends. Do whatever is necessary to get back on track
with seven or eight hours sleep every night. Studies show that
twenty-minute power naps make us more productive, so use part of your
lunch break for nutrition and part for a short nap to control stress.
You'll get more done.
- Tell people what's on your mind. If you can't ignore someone's
special talent for bugging you, talk it over with him or her.
There's a good chance they are unaware of the offense, so you don't
need to get up tight about it. In a friendly tone of voice, let
them know what gets under your skin and be ready to make some
concessions yourself. As you now know, their irritating habit is
probably magnified by other stressors, so make sure you've done what
you can to control stress before challenging anyone.
- The more educated you are about your job, the less stressful it
becomes. Even if you've been on the job for years, there's
always more to learn about the upstream and downstream impact of what
you do. Stay up to date with trade journals, books, and other
research. Become the expert at what you do and coach others.
While some companies do not pay for this type education, your own
investment will make you more valuable to your company. What you
know is portable - and it looks good on a resume.
- Helping others has an immediate impact on stress levels. Build
in some family time by volunteering as a family once a month.
Build rapport with supervisors and co-workers by organizing a
once-a-week lunchtime volunteer program. Lead a food or clothing
collection for needy employees or families outside your company.
these stress relievers works independently of the others. Find
one that's practical for you and put it to work. Friends,
family, and co-workers will all notice the changes in you and thank
you for making the effort.
11 Ways to Keep Your Cool:
Do your own job.
Communicate with the boss and
Schedule family time.
Get eight hours sleep a night.
Let others know what bugs you.
Learn new things about your job.
Volunteer to help others.
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