The source of most stress for a career person’s life is their workplace. The deadlines, paper work, demands from clients, bosses and colleagues, the details, the sheer volume of work that needs to be done, lack of support, short-staffing, and so on can all add up. You may (like me) thrive in a busy work environment – feeling the thrill of achieving results and getting things done – but it’s important to take moments during your working day to assess just what the workplace stress is doing to your body, your psyche and your health. These problems will all add up and will affect the productivity of your work – and your emotional, mental and physical states will be put to the test.
Stress management in your workplace involves a lot of factors, particularly in dealing with these minute problems that tend to blow out to huge problems when put all together. Here are some tips that will help you out to keep your work from ruining your health, and your sanity.
Start small but don’t form bad habits
The key to keeping a balanced career is not to make mountains out of molehills. Don’t let an anthill of a problem turn into a mountain. If you pay attention to details, you can solve the little problems one-by-one before they pile up.
Avoiding or breaking the habit of procrastination
Try to get rid of the habit of postponing those ‘big’ tasks and problems till later – you never know what will arrive on your desk tomorrow. Sure it’s fun to tackle the ‘low hanging fruit’ and get some quick wins by achieving simple tasks, but if doing so prevents you from tackling the major task that really needs to be completed now, you are just teaching yourself procrastination skills. The more you repeat this behavior, the more embedded it becomes. Without even realizing, you’ve created a bad habit which is really hard to break.
Turn Overwhelm into Achievement
If you have so many ‘balls in the air’ that you can’t seem to make progress on your projects, or you start forgetting where you’re at with all your tasks, the key is organization. I love a good list to help me keep track of all my projects. The simplest list is just the dot points, to jog your memory about what’s ‘to-do’. Each time you cross an item off that list, you feel a sense of achievement. Achievement creates endorphines in your brain, which give you a little ‘high’ – this will spur you on to repeat the action and strive to cross another item off the list.
I personally like to turn my list into a progress report. As I juggle so many projects at once in my Business Analyst role, I need to keep track of where each one is at and I also need to report to management. One of the simplest tools I’ve used is just a word document. Crazy, I know! All these software programs designed to help us in the workplace, agile tools, list making software, note snipping, web-clipping software – and I choose a simple text document to keep track of the myriad projects and tasks I manage.
Managing Relationships with Clients and Colleagues
Irate and demanding clients can give you more problems than anything put together. Since your life and career revolves around them, you need to tread carefully in handling their problems. One tip in dealing with these people is to keep your cool while listening to their rants and raves. Don’t let their anger affect you.
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Take a break once in a while
It is important to know your limits while working. Humans aren’t built to work 24 hours a day so its best if you keep a close eye on your body before it gets out of hand. If you think that the work is starting to affect your thinking or when you start to get irritable, try to take some time off and listen to music or get a cup of coffee with a colleague – it’s a great opportunity to network and relax at the same time. Sure, I know that coffee is a stimulant – but in a busy office environment, it’s important to get away from your desk.
If you have your own cubicle at work then it’s advisable to customize it to make your workplace as comfortable as possible. A cushion on your chair to prop your back, a foot stool to help your legs relax, or even some pictures that will remind you of fun times to take your mind off your problems for a short period of time.
Some techniques like breathing exercises will help you relax by keeping your body rhythm at normal. If you start to feel some aches and pains, then you better walk around or do a little stretching… loosen all those muscles first before proceeding with your workload.
Pamper, pamper, pamper
Sometimes work can be so demanding that it’s almost impossible to get a vacation; or if you do, you get turned down flat. You need to find ways to take some time off and pamper yourself before you continue with your work. If you have some free time, try to hook up with some health clinics around the area and get a massage.
Some massage techniques can help you relax and will leave you energize for work afterwards; while some can relieve you of your aches and pains so that you can proceed with your work without worries of annoying muscle cramps.
Stress management at your workplace will not only help your body cope with the problems at work, but will also help you in maintaining the productivity that your career needs.
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