Stress is a normal part of work life up until a certain point. When stress reaches peak levels, it can hinder productivity, effectiveness and emotional well-being. Learning to manage and cope with workplace stress is crucial to success. Here are tips to lowering and managing stress.
Get organized: Uncertainty and chaos can increase stress, even where stress shouldn’t exist. Cleaning up desk clutter, maintaining a prioritized to-do list, and staying abreast of workplace information can reduce or eliminate stress related to disorganization and the unknown.
Negotiate your schedule: Sometimes it’s not the work that is stressful, but other parts of your life that make getting to work more difficult, such as a long commute or caring for elderly parents. Changing your work schedule can be the answer. I once had a friend who worked 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. to avoid the worst of the Northern Virginia commute into Washington, D.C. Or you could do the opposite and work 10 to 6. Telecommuting is another way many workers achieve work-life balance to limit stress. When negotiating an alternative schedule or work situation, focus on the benefits you and the new schedule will deliver to the employer, not on your goal of reducing stress.
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Think good thoughts: This might seem Pollyannaish, but studies show that focusing on good thoughts lift mood and reduces stress. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, jot down three positive things about your career.
Take a walk: During your coffee or lunch break, take a 10 minute walk. Exercise is proven to reduce stress, improve mood and increase heart-health. If you can’t take a walk, use the stairs instead of the elevator. Or if you can’t find any time during the day, exercise before or after work.
Eat right: Vending machine foods are yummy, until they sap your energy, making you feel irritable and edgy. Healthy food isn’t just good for you, it also gives you the energy and nutrients needed to stay focused and productive.
Get a good night’s sleep: Over the last few years, more and more research has come out indicating the importance of sleep to help maintain weight, boost mood, maintain energy and reduce stress. Strive to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Be good to yourself: All work and no play will not only make you dull, but also anxious and unhappy. Find ways to put a little fun into your life whether it’s taking up a hobby, learning to meditate or spending time with friends and family.