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Top 7 Ways To Beat Stress At Work
By Angela Saunders
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- Anger and Frustration
Quite often, in the race against time when we have to focus attention on getting the job done, we are likely to experience anger and resentment when our purpose or our path seems blocked by others. It is important to remember that the people who are getting in our way are also frustrated and feeling highly aroused.
Try to step back from the situation and remember that they are just people trying to get their own work done. Take a deep breath or two and picture them as if they are only three or four and feeling sad, alone and helpless. In your mind's eye, make them very small and sit them in your pocket where they will feel more nurtured. Then, see yourself at maybe age five or six. See yourself unhappy and feeling all alone and isolated. Put your arm around yourself and give yourself plenty of love. When you have stopped crying and feel a little better, shrink yourself very small and put yourself in your pocket where you are able to embrace the other and give each other lots of love.
Now try and think about what needs to be done to unblock the situation.
Do you have problems in saying NO? Think about what could be the worst possible scenario if you did. Would it include disappointing someone you respect or rely on for your wages? Are you keener to be liked and admired rather than feel good about yourself and others? Are you afraid that if you say no, you will lose valuable advantages, services or even your job? Write down your answer on a piece of paper.
Now, write down how you feel about yourself and others when you give in against your will. What does this unexpressed anger and resentment do to your body? Be honest. How many years are you prepared to be a sap because you lack the bravery, will power or know how necessary to state your case.
Ask yourself: What exactly do I want to achieve? Write it down in clear language, i.e. I do not want to take on another job when everyone else is leaving to go home.
Write down seven suitable non-threatening but factual (non-emotional) responses.
- I am not able to take on any more work today. (Plain talking)
- I need to leave on time as others depend on me. (You have a life)
- Please bring the job to me in the morning. (Not refusing the job, just the imposition)
- This job is not my responsibility, X handles that type of work (You are not taking on others' burdens)
- Let me show you how you can deal with it. (I am not taking on your work but am prepared to show you what to do)
- Please make alternative arrangements as my work schedule is totally spoken for. (You just have no time)
- I will be happy to do it for you another time when I am less busy. (Or specify)
Chose one as appropriate to the situation.
If you feel isolated or you feel colleagues are unfriendly or ganging up on you, try getting in early and place an invitation on their desk to join you for a lunchtime/hometime drink/coffee/social event, or write out a list of open-ended questions (free response to which they can't answer a yes or no) to ask them about themselves, i.e., What are/would be your hobbies? What are your favourite tv/radio programs? What sports do you enjoy most? How do you spend your weekends? Ask them about their children, parents, families, and become more friendly. Try one question per person, per day, amongst your closest work colleagues. Remember, stop focusing on yourself and your discomfort and focus on other people instead. People like to talk about themselves and they will like people who seem to be interested in and like them.
- Time Wasters
Time is money, or so the saying goes. Who is wasting your time? Is it really their fault or are you blaming them for your own lack of organization or will to get jobs done? What time are you wasting during your working week. Write down exactly what jobs you do as you are doing them (every single thing including going to the toilet) and time them. How much time do you spend over your first cup of coffee, walking to and from other desks, offices or departments? How much time is spent at the photocopier, the post office or bank, the interrupting phone calls. Find a way of screening interruptions, or use your voicemail facility more often. Get up earlier or go to bed later. Find a quiet time every day when you can get on with thinking jobs, free from interruptions. Use this time to plan your way forward, write reports, finish problem tasks.
Cope with anxiety by taking the emotion out of your problem. Find the fear behind the situation and deal with that fear, i.e., you are late for an appointment. No matter what you do you know that you will never make it on time. You feel angry, frustrated, overwhelmed when the traffic holds you up even more. You blame the boss, the fact that you didn't think the appointment necessary anyway, the customer/committee for needing consultation. All the time you know that you are the only one to blame. What you probably fear the most is feeling a fool when you arrive late, being told that you cannot now be seen/heard, you have lost the sale, etc., and other people discovering exactly how disorganized you are.
If you do a time and management study of your working week (#4 above), you will become more realistic about how much time things really take you, and remember to allow realistic amounts of time in order to deliver on time. Take the emotion out of your problem by asking yourself what exactly is your purpose, and what is getting in the way from helping you achieve it. Ask yourself what you need to do (practical solutions, detailed work schedules) or have (tools) that will assist you. Always be prepared. In our scenario above, you should phone (Practical tool) ahead and reschedule rather than attempt to meet impossible deadlines. (Practical solution) If you can't reschedule, tell them you have been held up but that you intend to keep the appointment. Not only is it polite to keep people you are relying on informed, but it shows them that you really care about and value their own business programs. They will be more inclined to make an occasional allowance for your hectic life!
- Fitness and Health
Are you constantly too tired to deal with queries, problems and others' needs? Do you shout responses, slam doors, lose your temper? Stress is exhausting and debilitating. If you are not getting enough exercise or fresh air into your lungs, then your body will suffer and this will make things worse.
Start today. Go for a walk in your lunch hour. Take your sandwiches, mineral water and an apple to the local park and take a brisk walk until you feel puffed. Slow down your pace but keep walking for about 15 minutes more, then sit and watch the world go by for another ten minutes whilst you recover and eat your lunch. You will feel better already.
Remember to stand up from your desk and stretch, extending your arms and legs one by one, and dropping your head sideways slowly to your right shoulder, lifting it and then dropping it to your left shoulder, and then forward as you slowly rotate your heavy head first to the right, then backwards, then to the left, then back to where you started. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears, higher and higher, and then drop them. Repeat these three or four times. Regular stretch breaks will ward off muscle fatigue, cramps, neck and shoulder tension and irritation.
- Problems Keeping You Awake?
Brisk exercise just before bed, a warm drink, (camomile tea is good) and some soft music may lull you off to sleep easier than you think. If not, get up and write down all the things that are bothering you, or list all the jobs you want to do tomorrow on a piece of paper. The act of writing things out (connecting your thinking to your motor responses) gets your unconscious mind to work on problems whilst your sleep, often delivering solutions when you begin the task in question and also lets your physical body relax, knowing that things are already in hand. Now try again.
Today's Top 7 Best Ways To Beat Stress At Work is brought to you by Angela Saunders who is a Chartered Occupation Psychologist at The Mind Set. The Mind Set offers individuals help, advice, coaching and in all interpersonal and business related subjects, and corporate consultancy, training design and mentoring in management, business skills and HR subjects. Please feel free to visit her at www.themindgroup.com or to subscribe to her free newsletter at www.stressmatters.com
Article Submitted On: December 18, 2000