Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to manage job stress.

Working can be very stressful these days. Living with constant stress can disturb your emotional and physical health. It can narrow your ability to think clearly, function effectively and enjoy your life. To bring your mind and body back into balance, you need to change the way you deal with stress in order to reduce its hold on your life.
Some causes of stress are obvious - job loss, a divorce, the death of a loved one. But small, daily hassles and demands such as a long commute or trouble finding childcare also contribute to your stress level. Over time, small, persistent stressors can wreak more havoc than sudden, devastating events. The ultimate goal is to have a more balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation and fun - and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet life’s challenges head on.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

- Be more assertive.
Take charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, and the way you deal with problems. If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic makes you tense, take a different, less-traveled route. Cross subjects that upset you off your conversation list. Tackle your problems head on and do your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an interview to prepare for and your chatty friend calls, tell him that you’ve only got five minutes to talk.

- Learn how to say “no.”
Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching your limit. If you take on more than you can handle, it’s a surefire recipe for increased stress.

- Pare down your to-do list.
Analyze your schedule, and examine your daily tasks. If you have too much on your plate, separate the “musts” from the “shoulds.” Eliminate any tasks that aren’t really necessary.

- Connect with others.
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. Talk with family, friends, clergy or other trusted advisers about your concerns and stresses and ask for their support. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. Talking to a trusted friend about what you’re going through can be very helpful, even if there’s nothing they can do to alter your situation.

- Focus on the things you can control.
Many things in life are beyond our control - particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on how you choose to react to the problems they created. We live in an imperfect world where people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy - forgive and move on.

- Avoid people who stress you out.
If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

- Manage your time better.
When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead, you can avoid these stress-inducing pitfalls.

- That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Look at major challenges as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices have contributed to your stressful situation, think about them and learn from your mistakes. Focus on the positive and look for the good in situations instead of the bad. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.

- Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule.
Take 15-minutes each day to sit quietly, breathe deeply and think of a peaceful scene. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the guitar, or working on your bike and don’t let other obligations interfere. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

- Keep your sense of humor.
Especially the ability to laugh at yourself. Laughing enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Laughing also releases neuropeptides that help fight stress and increase a particular cell activity that's beneficial in fighting diseases such as HIV and cancer. So, find some photos or comic strips that give you a chuckle and hang them at home, in your office, or even on the visor of your car.

- Exercise regularly.
Virtually any form of exercise can decrease the production of stress hormones and counteract your body's natural stress response. The same regular exercise routines that help prevent disease and build muscle can also help you better manage stress. Do something you enjoy every day, like swimming, jogging, golfing, walking, or cycling. Check with your doctor to determine what activity level is right for you.

Finally, don't use smoking, drinking, overeating, drugs or caffeine to cope with stress. They’ll only make things worse. Talk to a mental health professional or counselor if you can't cope on your own. Ask your doctor, family or friends for recommendations. If they can't help, ask a hospital social worker for some names.

No comments: