|Coping with Stress in the Work Place
Coping with stress in the work place may seem like an every day challenge. For employees everywhere, the troubled economy has produced increased fears of continued “Layoffs” and “Budget Cuts.” As an employee you may feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster. Now is the time to concentrate on the importance of learning and practicing better ways of coping with pressure. The ability to manage your stress of your position in today’s uncertain climate can mean the difference between success or failure on your job. Your emotions are contagious, and stress has an impact on the quality of your interactions with others. The better you become at managing your own stress, the more you can positively affect those around you and the less other people’s stress will negatively affect you.
While some stress is a normal part of life, excessive stress interferes with your productivity and reduces your physical and emotional health. As managers and leaders you may feel more added pressure, this is why it is so important to find ways to manage and reduce your stress level at work.
SIGNS AND SYMPTONS OF EXCESSIVE STRESS AT WORK
Some of the common causes of excessive workplace stress is the fear of layoffs. You may be experiencing increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks. Do you perceive that you have more pressure to perform; to meet the rising expectations but have no increased feelings of job satisfaction? Start paying attention to your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of you become stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel, the more equip you will be to manage work place stress.
- Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
- Apathy, loss of interest in work
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Stomach problems
- Problems sleeping or Fatigue
- Having trouble concentrating
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope
- Social withdrawal and or loss of sex drive
TAKING CARE OF YOU IS THE FIRST IMPORTANT STEP
Taking care of yourself may be the last thing on your list of priorities. However, it should be number one! Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel more capable. Make more positive lifestyle choices, taking things one step at a time. Soon you will notice a difference in your stress levels.
Get moving: Aerobic exercise ~perspiring~ is an effective anti-anxiety treatment for lifting your mood and increasing your energy. Exercise will sharpen your focus and relax your mind and body.
Make wise food choices: Eating small but frequent meals throughout your day maintains an even level of blood sugar in your body. Low blood sugar makes a person feel more anxious and irritable. If you eat to much you feel lethargic and tired. Make those food choices that keep you going and make you feel good and strong.
Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid nicotine: Alcohol temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off. Drinking to relieve job stress can also start you on the path to abuse and dependency. Smoking when you feel stressed and overwhelmed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant ~ leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.
Get enough sleep: Stress and worry will cause insomnia. But lack of sleep leaves you vulnerable to stress. When you are sleep deprived, your ability to handle stress is compromised.
YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR JOB STRESS
There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce both your overall stress levels and the stress you find in the workplace.
- Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being.
- Avoiding pitfalls by identifying those habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work.
- Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with your employees and coworkers.
Time management tips for reducing job stress
Task management tips for reducing job stress
- Create a balanced schedule. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits. A person needs downtime; remember the adage, all work and no play…is a sure recipe for burnout.
- Don’t over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back do not try to fit too much into one day. At times, we underestimate how much time it may take to complete a project or task. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop those tasks that are not truly necessary.
- Try to leave earlier in the morning. Even 10~15 minutes can make the difference. Avoid frantically rushing to your desk, a few extra minutes will give you time to ease into your day. Don’t add to you’re your stress levels by running late.
- Plan regular breaks. Take short breaks throughout your day to sit back and clear your mind. Get away from your desk for lunch. Stepping away from your work to briefly relax and re-charge will help you be more, not less productive.
REDUCING STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE WITH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
- Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high – priority first. If there is an unpleasant task to accomplish, get it over early in your day. This makes the rest of your day a more pleasant result.
- Break projects into small steps. If a project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one management step at a time.
- Delegate responsibility. You do not have to do it all by yourself. Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You will be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
The more emotional intelligence you have, the more stress you can avoid in the workplace. Fortunately, emotional intelligence is not something we are born with; it’s something we can learn and develop. There are Five Key Skills for raising your emotional intelligence. The skill set that enables you to acquire these capabilities can be learned but requires the development of emotional and nonverbal ways of communicating.
Reduce workplace stress by breaking your bad habits
- Learn to recognize your stress response and become familiar with sensual cues that can rapidly calm and energize you.
- Stay connected to your internal emotional experience so you can appropriately manage your own emotions. Knowing what you are feeling will add to your self confidence, improve your self control and enhance your understanding of others and help to build satisfying relationships.
- Learn to recognize and effectively use the nonverbal cues that make up 95~98% of your communication process. Including your eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of your voice, posture, gestures and touch. It is not what you say but how you say it that impacts others ~for better or worse.
- Develop the capacity to meet challenges with humor. There is no better stress buster than a hardy laugh.
- Learn to navigate conflict by becoming a good listener and someone who can face conflict fearlessly with the expectation that differences resolved will strengthen the relationship.
Eliminate self-defeating behaviors. Many of us make our job stress worse with patterns of thought or behavior that keep us from relieving the pressure on ourselves. Try to resist perfectionism, no project, situation, or decision is ever perfect. Clean up your act. For example; if you are always running late, set your clock ahead. Is your desk a mess? Clean it up; knowing where things are will reduce your stress. Make to-do lists and cross off items you have accomplished. Try to flip your negative thinking. Do you see the downside of every situation and interaction? If this is true, you will find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Think positively about your work. Pat yourself on your back for the daily small accomplishments.
Remember the ways to dispel your stress
If you feel your stress building, take a break. Walk away from the situation. Talk it out; sometimes the best stress-reducer is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you. The act of talking it out – and getting support and empathy from someone else, is often an excellent way of blowing off your steam. Cultivate allies at work. Just knowing you have co-workers who are willing to assist you in times of stress will reduce your stress level. Just remember to reciprocate and help them when they are in need of it. Lastly, always try to find humor in the situation. When you – or the people around you – start taking things too seriously, find a way to break through with laughter. Share a joke or funny story. Remember you are in this together.
WHAT MANAGERS CAN DO TO REDUCE STRESS AT WORK
It is in the managers’ best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers are the positive role models, especially in time of high stress. All the tips mentioned above are twice as important for managers to follow. If someone we admire remains calm, it is much easier not to react in a negative way.
Consult your employees
- Share information with employees to reduce uncertainly about their jobs and futures.
- Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities.
- Make communication friendly and efficient, not mean-spirited or petty.
Show your employees that they are valued. Praise good work performances verbally. Promote an “entrepreneurial” work climate that gives your staff more control over their work. If you as their Manager cultivate a friendly social climate, everyone’s stress level will be lower. Always make your management actions consistent and fair. These tips may seem simple, however at times of high stress they work.
- Give your employees the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their jobs.
- Be sure the workload is suitable to employees’ abilities and resources; avoid unrealistic deadlines.