During these times with the economy in difficulty it may seem harder than ever to cope with the demands and challenges in the workplace. The stress we take with us from home, the commute to and from work and the stress that awaits us when we get to the job are on the rise – and employers, managers and workers, regardless of the industry, are all feeling this added pressure. While some stress is a normal part of life, excessive stress and distress interferes with productivity, working relationships and physical & emotional health. So it’s important to find ways to keep stress levels under control. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce stress at work. Coping with stress in today’s uncertain work climate Workers everywhere are feeling the emotional roller coaster ride of the troubled economy with ‘redundancy’, ‘layoffs’ and ‘cut-backs’ having become common words heard in the workplace. The result is increased fear, higher levels of stress and constant uncertainty about job security. Since workplace stress increases during times of economic crises it’s important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure. Certainly the ability to manage stress in the workplace can make a big difference between success or failure on the job, and the better you manage your stress the more you’ll positively affect those around you, likewise the negative stress of others will affect you less. Learn to manage your job stress There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce your overall personal stress levels and the stresses from your job and workplace. These can include – Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being, why not attend a stress management workshop or seminar if you have the opportunity (or follow some of the tips on this post). Avoiding pitfalls by identifying negative attitudes and reactions that add to the stress you experience at work or with work colleagues. Learn better communication skills and improve your relationships with management and co-workers. Take a moment to think before responding if you are feeling highly stressed, sometimes harsh words are spoken in haste which can damage colleague relationships, sometimes for good. Some of the warning signs of excessive stress at work When people feel overwhelmed and distressed they lose confidence, focus and very often become withdrawn and irritable, which in turn affects productive and effectiveness at work. If the warning signs of work stress go unattended they often lead to much bigger problems. Signs and symptoms of Stress Feeling anxious, irritable and/or depressed Apathy, loss of interest in work Fatigue, sleeping problems Trouble to focus and concentrate Muscle tension/headaches Stomach problems Loss of sex drive Social withdrawal Increased use of alcohol or drugs to cope Take care of yourself and reduce work stress When stress in the workplace interferes with your ability to work, care for yourself, spend time with family or friends or manage a personal life then its time to take action. Start by paying attention to your health, both physically and emotionally. When you take the time to care for yourself you become stronger and more resilient to stress, thus becoming better equipped to manage stress at work. Even making small changes today can lift your mood and increase your energy & determination. Take things one step at a time and as you make more positive choices in your life, you’ll soon notice a difference in your stress levels, both at home and at work. Learn to relax– take some time out every day and do something you enjoy, take a walk outside in the fresh air, read a book, learn some simple breathing exercises or meditation, and/or take up a ‘movement’ sport such as yoga. Get your sleep – I cannot stress enough how vital it is to get your 7-8 hours sleep per night, by doing so you will have more energy the next day, have better concentration & focus and be less irritable. Treat your body well – have a healthy diet (introduce fruit and vegetables into your daily meals and increase the amount of water you drink to about 8 glasses per day). Cut back on the soft drinks, alcohol and smoking. Move your body – take up a physical exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, jogging, hitting the gym etc. By exercising at least 3 to 4 times per week you increase your fitness levels, muscle tone, reduce stress and improve heart and lung function. Take up a hobby– do something you really enjoy every week, it doesn’t matter what you do, from stamp collecting to train spotting. Having our own hobby can do wonders for well-being and we all deserve a little ‘me’ time every week. Reduce Stress by prioritizing and organizing – When workplace stress is all around you, it cannot be ignored, but there are simple steps that can be taken to regain control. Time Management Tips – Create a balanced schedule – analyse your schedule, responsibilities and daily tasks. All work and no play is a one way ticket for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and life outside the workplace, family, friends, social activities and relaxation. Don’t over-commit yourself – don’t try to fit too much into one day. Have a realistic idea of the length of time a task is likely to take, very often the term ‘it only takes 5 minutes’ isn’t the reality. If you’ve got too much on your ‘to do’ list learn to distinguish between the “should” and the “musts” and don’t be afraid to drop those tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list. Try to leave earlier in the morning – especially if you are the type of person that’s found rushing to his/her desk in the morning out of breath, by leaving a little earlier you ease into your day, rushing will only add to your stress levels. Plan regular breaks – make sure to take some short breaks throughout the day to sit back and clear your mind. Try to get away from the desk for lunch, go outside and take a short walk. Stepping away from work to briefly relax will help you to be more (and not less) productive. We do not need to chain ourselves to the desk. Task Management tips- Prioritize tasks – make a ‘to do’ list everyday and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first, likewise if you have a task you don’t particularly like to do then do this first, the rest of you day will be more pleasant as a result. Break projects into small bites – if a project seems overwhelming, try making it a step by step plan. Focus on one step at a time, ticking it off the list as you go, this will give you the energy to tackle the rest of the project. Delegate responsibility – you really don’t have to do everything yourself, either at home or on the job. If other people can do a task then why not let them? Let go of the need to control every step and by doing so you will let go of some unnecessary stress also. As you learn to manage your job stress and improve work relationships, you’ll have more control over your ability to think clearly and act appropriately. You will be able to break habits that add to your stress at work. Stress is here to stay, that’s a fact, but with proper management we can all benefit with a richer and more stress free life. Did you find this post helpful? Are there other areas of Stress Management you would like to read on Bloggertone? Why not leave a comment for me… VOTE for this post HERE and win great prizes! This post is part of the SugarTone: Sweet Business Blogging Contest.