Let’s face it. Many of us have felt the miserable feeling that stress and tension related to our jobs can cause on a daily basis. Aside from feeling bad from a mental perspective there are serious health issues that can develop if you don’t do something and make some changes to reduce your stress levels.
Stress and work are like two peas in a pod. They go together well, and because of this, many people dread waking up every morning. Stress is not something to take lightly. You could say that it’s a fact of life, but having too much stress could lead to some major health problems down the line.
Just think of how stress affects you in the short term. You may get headaches, or even worse, migraines. You may start to feel anxious, as if you are going to have a panic attack. Maybe you have difficulty breathing, or you could simply feel exhausted.
That’s just the short term. Think of the long term effects that are much more serious. You could get abnormally high blood pressure. Depression may start to become part of your life. You could start to lose or gain large amounts of weight. Or, worst of all, you could have a heart attack. Just seeing all these effects should be enough to tell you that controlling stress is a MUST.
If stress hits you hard in the workplace, you are definitely not alone. In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress, four out of five workers in the United States experience stress on the job. That’s a whopping 80 percent!
So what causes this workplace stress? Many cite unfair or unrealistic workload demands as one of the major causes. This workload often causes a lack of balance between one’s personal life and professional life. Another huge cause of workplace stress is a lack of job security. If you are constantly wondering if you will have a job next week, stress will definitely start to creep in and take over your life. This becomes even truer if you have a family and children that depend on you.
Lastly, many workers cite personality conflicts as a cause of workplace stress. You can’t choose your coworkers, so you are bound to meet others with personalities that clash with your own. This can create animosity in the workplace, and can become even worse if your personality conflicts with that of your superiors.
So, now that you know the effects of stress and some of the causes behind it, what can you do? It may be impossible to eliminate it completely, but how can you at least reduce stress in the workplace? Here are ten tips that you can and should start applying immediately.
Nobody is perfect. We all like to think we are, but this just isn’t the case. You have to accept criticism. It’s part of any job. Take it for what it’s worth and use it to improve. If you go nuts every time somebody asks you for a revision or isn’t completely pleased with your work, you will never make it through the day. Accept criticism as it comes through and do not take things personally. People that do this tend to build a lot of animosity in the workplace and it makes for a toxic environment for everybody.
Stop comparing yourself to others
It is quite common to want to compare ourselves to our coworkers. John may make a higher salary than you. Lisa may have gotten the promotion you have always wanted. Steve may have a nicer office. Stop comparing! If you make it your business to constantly compare your situation to others then you will never be able to focus on the task at hand. This will eventually turn into an obsession and you could turn to hate your coworkers because of it. It is not healthy to compare yourself to others. Focus on yourself and how you can improve and you will eventually reap the benefits of your hard work. Do not obsess over things you cannot control. In the end, it is nothing but a waste of time and energy. Instead of comparing yourself to others, set your own personal standards to follow. Make goals for where you want to be in the future and focus on them. Compete with yourself and you will be surprised at how far you can go.
Communicate with others
If you keep all of your thoughts and feelings inside without talking to anybody, you will detonate like a bomb. You may be feeling bad about a certain project. Perhaps you don’t like what a coworker said to you. Regardless of what is bothering you, make sure to talk about it with others. Not only will this make them aware of issues in the workplace, but it will also relieve any stress you may feel regarding that problem.
Use lists to your advantage
If your mind is filled with a ton of ideas and tasks, you won’t know what to hit first. It will be like a huge ball of stress twirling around in your mind and will make things seem worse than they really are. Writing down a simple list of things you need to accomplish on a daily basis is a great way to stay organized mentally and reduce stress. Another good thing about lists, besides their organizational advantages, is that they make you feel good. Think of the last time you wrote a list. When you crossed something off of it as being accomplished, you felt good, didn’t you? That’s what makes lists even more valuable, so start implementing them into your daily schedule now if you haven’t done so already.
Now that we’ve reviewed a few easy techniques that anyone can use this next group will not only help lower your stress levels but just may contribute to you living a longer healthier life. They may be a little more difficult to implement but the benefit outweighs the difficulty of the task.
Cut the caffeine
Another thing we are hooked on besides technology is caffeine. You want that edge to get you through your long days. While some cups of coffee can definitely give you a jolt in the morning or in the afternoon, don’t overdo it. Too much caffeine is not good for the body and can actually add to your stress levels. You can’t go 100 miles per hour all the time, so slow down. Even worse than coffee are all of those energy drinks on the market. Not only will they make you dependent on them for energy, but they are expensive as well! The same goes for diet pills and other items loaded with caffeine.
There’s really no better stress reliever out there that some good old exercise. Even if you hate the thought of exercising, you should not ignore its many benefits. Exercise is obviously good for your body, but it’s probably even better for your mind. As you exercise, your body begins to release endorphins. This makes you feel good and almost gives you a natural high. You should try to make a habit of setting aside some time each day to workout. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym, but do SOMETHING physical. Take a walk, a jog, or look up videos of quick exercise routines on YouTube. The possibilities are endless and the health benefits are numerous. You will feel better – guaranteed. If you are really lucky, your job may offer a gym membership for free as part of your compensation package. If they do, take advantage of it.
Designate a block of “tech-free” time
Let’s face it, we have become overly attached to technology. Smartphones, laptops, desktops, tablets, you name it – they all keep us way too occupied. If you are constantly connected to or looking at a device, there is no way your mind will be allowed to think 100 percent clearly. If you respond to each email or notification as they come in, you will constantly be sidetracked. While it’s extremely important to respond to messages, you need to set aside a block of quiet time each day so that you can relax and refresh. You could set an hour a day where you ignore your inbox completely. Better yet, set half hour blocks throughout the day where you remain “unconnected” from devices so that you can truly focus and be at peace.
Give yourself a massage
A massage is a great way to wind down and squeeze some of that built up stress out of your body. If you don’t have the time to skip out of the office to hit up a professional massage place, give yourself a massage! All you have to do is rub your shoulders, neck, or any other parts of your body that feel tense. There are many other methods for giving yourself a massage as well, so look for some that seem appealing. Even if you only do this for five or ten minutes per day, you will find that your mind and body feel more relaxed after doing so.
Unwind by laughing
You know how they say laughter is the best medicine, well it’s pretty true! A good laugh can help brighten your spirits instantly. You could tell one of your coworkers a joke. Maybe even take a quick break to look up something funny on YouTube. Whatever it is, make sure to sneak some laughs in during the day. Spread the love too. You can help your coworkers relieve stress by showing them something funny. Just make sure not to goof off TOO much.
If you find that you simply CANNOT tolerate your current workplace, change it! You have one life to live. Why spend it in a place that makes you absolutely miserable. Whether it’s from a particular boss or the overall way in which a company works, do not settle. Now, it’s worth noting that you should really try to find a new job before dumping your current one. Simply quitting without having a replacement could make your stress skyrocket when you cannot pay your bills on time. Plan ahead to avoid this from happening and remember that work should not make you miserable!
Employ these tips now and see how your stress levels flatten out. Stress is a part of work, but learn how to control it and it will make your professional and personal life that much better.
|Written on 7/4/2013 by Enrique Stone.|
Photo Credit: Becky Wetherington