Stress in inevitable in life. Stress on the job is a given. Research shows that for most people, our jobs are the number one source of stress in our lives. Research also shows the more hours you work, the greater your chance for stress related illness.
Stress not only builds tension, anxiety, conflict and even physical ailments into our lives. Stress is also one of the biggest issues in time management because it can rob us of energy or desire to do a job well, which can make us inefficient and ineffective.
We can’t get rid of stress in our lives. However, we can make ourselves more effective by managing stress better. Here are a few tips:
Recognize your stressors and develop a strategy for each one of them. When does stress build up for you each day? Is there loud noise that makes it difficult to work? Perhaps, there are difficult colleagues who cause time-wasting conflict. Consider what you can control about each situation and pledge to modify your circumstances. Can you eliminate or reduce noise by closing the door, lowering volume or working from a different location? Maybe its time for a heart-to-heart with certain colleagues to try to find a mutually beneficial way to do things differently or work separately.
When coaching my clients, I often suggest the Stephen Covey approach to problem solving. That is, start with the end in mind. When it comes to your stressors, draw a picture of what the ideal situation looks like and then develop a strategy for change. Identifying your stressors and understanding the impact they are having on your life is a critical step in reducing their negative impact.
Take a deep breath. This really works. When stress starts to build, be intentional about pausing and take a few deep breaths. This puts more oxygen in your body, can help settle you down and give you a clearer mind to think through the stressful situation.
Change your routine. Take an alternative route to work. Listen to music or something that makes you laugh when in the car. I like to turn everything off in the car and ride in complete silence. Very therapeutic.
Take a time out. This isn’t just for your kids. Sometimes it is best to take a break and get out of the office. Go for a walk. Or, simply close your door and stretch for a few minutes. Get away from the stress physically and/or mentally.
Admit when you need help. Often times stress builds on busy people who have agreed to take on too much. You don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman. It’s okay to admit that you need additional support.
Develop a wellness program. Review and modify your diet. I can’t say enough about how important it is to eat well. Simply putting good food in your body will make a major difference in your energy level and attitude. That will make you more efficient and effective on the job. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest. Sleep is a good thing. Maintain a regular exercise routine. Walk, run, swim, ride a bike or whatever you enjoy (as much as one can enjoy exercise). Make it fun. Be consistent.
Take your vacations! Some people feel like it is a badge of honor to not take vacation. I strongly believe taking time off is good for you and the organization. You need your time away to relax, refocus and reenergize.
Get a fresh perspective on the stress in your life. Less stress IS best. The key is to understand where stress comes from and then be intentional about conquering stress so you can be happier, healthier and much more productive.