HOW TO REDUCE AND MANAGE WORKPLACE STRESS

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Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming and harmful to both physical and emotional health. Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and wellbeing.

In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulties in concentration. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to poor health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease.

Coping mechanisms

Few people are fortunate enough to go through their working years without having to deal with a co-worker who causes them stress. In many cases, this individual will have a protector among senior staff, which means you will have to find a way to deal with the problem on our own. Keep yourself at a physical and emotional distance from the co-worker whenever possible. Don’t be confrontational. Instead, take time to learn coping mechanisms to reduce your stress and protect your own professional reputation in the organization. Set boundaries for your interactions with a coworker who causes stress. Whenever possible, avoid dealing with him. Try to avoid being alone with him and ensure any dealings or exchanges you have with him are done in the presence of other people. If he constantly comes to your office or cubicle, tell him firmly but calmly that you are busy and don’t have time to talk.

Types of stress

Stress management can be complicated and confusing because there are different types of stress acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress each with its own characteristics, symptoms, duration and treatment approaches. Acute stress is the most common. It comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. Acute stress is thrilling and exciting in small doses, but too much of the same is exhausting. A fast run down a challenging ski slope, for example, is exhilarating early in the day. That same ski run late in the day is taxing and wearing. Skiing beyond your limits can lead to falls and broken bones. There are those, however, who suffer acute stress frequently and whose lives are so disorderly that they are studies in chaos and crisis. They’re always in a rush, but ever late. If something can go wrong, it must/does go wrong. They take on too much, have too many irons in the fire, and can’t organize the slew of self-inflicted demands and pressures clamouring for their attention. They seem perpetually in the clutches of acute stress. While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and impact your physical and emotional health. And your ability to deal with it can mean the difference between success or failure. You can’t control everything in your work environment, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless even even when you’re stuck in a difficult situation. Finding ways to manage workplace stress isn’t about making huge changes or rethinking career ambitions, but rather about focusing on the thing that’s always within your control. Job and workplace stress increase in times of economic crisis. It is hence important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure. Your emotions are contagious, and stress has an impact on the quality of your interactions with others. The better you are at managing your own stress, the more you’ll positively affect those around you, and the less other people’s stress will negatively affect you.

Overwhelmed

When you feel overwhelmed at work, you lose confidence and may become irritable or withdrawn. This can make you less productive and less effective in your job, and make the work seem less rewarding. If you ignore the warning signs of work stress, they can lead to bigger problems. Beyond interfering with job performance and satisfaction, chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems.

When stress at work interferes with your ability to perform in your job, manage your personal life, or adversely impacts your health, it’s time to take action. Start by paying attention to your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of, you’re stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel, the better equipped you’ll be to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed.

Solutions

Taking care of yourself doesn’t require a total lifestyle overhaul. Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat. Take things one step at a time, and as you make more positive lifestyle choices, you’ll soon notice a reduction in your stress levels, both at home and at work. Regular exercise is a powerful stress

Reliever even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing. Aerobic exercise activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. For maximum stress relief, try to get at least 30 minutes of heart-pounding activity on most days. If it’s easier to fit into your schedule, break up the activity into two or three shorter segments.

Low blood sugar can make you feel anxious and irritable, while eating too much can make you lethargic. Healthy eating can help you get through stressful work days. By eating small but frequent meals, you can help your body maintain an even level of blood sugar, keep your energy up, stay focused, and avoid mood swings.

Alcohol temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but too much drinking can cause anxiety as it wears off. Drinking to relieve job stress may also eventually lead to alcohol abuse and dependence. Similarly, smoking when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

Not only can stress and worry can cause insomnia, but lack of sleep can leave you vulnerable to even more stress. When you’re well-rested, it’s much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with job and workplace stress. Try to improve the quality of your sleep by keeping a sleep schedule and aiming for 8 hours a night.

Close relationships are vital to helping you through times of stress so reach out to family and friends. Simply sharing your feelings face to face with another person can help relieve some of the stress. The other person doesn’t have to “fix” your problems. He or she should just be a good listener. Accepting support is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your bond.

When job and workplace stress threatens to overwhelm you, there are simple steps you can take to regain control over yourself and the situation. Your newfound ability to maintain a sense of self-control in stressful situations will often be well-received by coworkers, managers, and subordinates alike, which can lead to better relationships at work.

Emotional intelligence

Even if you’re in a job where the environment has grown increasingly stressful, you can retain a large measure of self-control and self-confidence by understanding and practising emotional intelligence. This is the ability to manage and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways. When it comes to satisfaction and success at work, emotional intelligence matters just as much as intellectual ability. Emotional intelligence is about communicating with others in ways that draw people to you, overcome differences, repair wounded feelings, and defuse tension and stress.

It’s in a manager’s best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers can act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress, by following the tips outlined in this article. If a respected manager can remain calm in stressful work situations, it is much easier for his or her employees to also remain calm.

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