Dealing With Stress in the Workplace

No matter where you work, you will, at one time or another, have to deal with stress. Those who work for large companies or corporations complain about stress due to poor management and small cubicles. Stress is not exclusive to white collar employment; blue collar workers experience it as well. Even those who work from home experience stress as they struggle to maintain a work atmosphere and productivity while surrounded by housework and domestic issues. Everyone is susceptible to stress.

Stress can be a positive thing, encouraging us to go beyond our comfort zone and achieve more. Too much, however, will have the opposite effect causing a Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½melt-down’ where nothing productive can be accomplished because of extreme discouragement.

How does one avoid this kind of stress in the workplace? A few basic principles are necessary.

Stay clear of gossip and break room chatter. Getting to know one’s fellow workers is important; taking part in gossip is not. Allowing yourself to become embroiled in workplace gossip is harmful, counterproductive and stressful. In order to concentrate on doing your job to the best of your ability, you need to ignore the gossip even if it is about you. Treat your co-workers with respect and kindness, and remember that you are there not to develop a social life, but to do the job for which you were hired.

Expect to be corrected from time to time. Many strive so hard to please employers, and are such perfectionists, that a correction will have the same effect as a blow to the head. Remember that corrections are usually for professional reasons. Rarely are they meant as a personal affront. The Biblical book of Proverbs says “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Instead of taking reproofs personally and allowing your pride to be hurt, adopt a “live and learn” attitude without defensiveness.

Accept that there may be times of unprovoked anger towards you or unjust accusations made. Do what you can, in a professional manner, to clear up the matter. This may work. If it doesn’t, be careful to avoid mulling it over. Imagine the offense as a scab forming over a wound; every time you allow yourself to go over the whole issue again, it is as if you are reopening the wound, causing it to fester and become worse. Just let it go. Those who can forgive are more stress free, healthier and sleep better.

Often stress is caused by disorder in our lives. Trying to put everything in order all at once is enough to cause that meltdown you are trying to avoid. Make a list of disorderly things that are causing you stress. Prioritize the list. Is your desk the number one item on your list? Tackle the pile of papers. Throw as much as possible. Divide the rest in two piles, one for immediate attention and the other for attention needed next. Now prioritize the contents of each pile. Start at the top and make your way through until all is done. Be sure to delegate authority whenever possible. Maintaining a clean workplace will help immensely, allowing you to avoid distraction, become more productive, and stress free.

Be careful to take scheduled breaks. Studies have proven that people are more effective workers and actually accomplish more when they have periodic breaks from their work. No matter how much work you have to do, force yourself to leave it and take a brisk walk in the fresh air or just leave the vicinity of your work and sit quietly for a few moments. Pay attention to your posture. Are your shoulders tense and your back aching? Breathe deep and slow, relaxing your shoulders. If you can, prop your feet up and close your eyes for a few minutes.

Along the same theme, be sure to eat properly and drink enough water throughout your work day. Proper food is a necessary fuel to help us function at our best, so doing without it is counterproductive. A lack of water will cause sleepiness and a lack of energy, so be sure to drink plenty.

Finally, get a life. One’s job should be a means of paying bills and enjoying life. Take the time to develop hobbies, help others through volunteer work, play with your children, enjoy your friends and family. Remember to be thankful often, smile more than frown, laugh lots, and share freely. After all, we have a limited time here on this earth. Enjoy it to the fullest, and don’t let stress get you down. It is a choice we all have to make.

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