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Reducing Workplace Stress

A recent survey by asked more than 5,000 workers about their stress levels and if they would seek a less stressful job or career in the future. Almost 40 percent of the employees answered that they would be looking for a less stressful job. This may prove difficult.

Brian W. Pascal
Unless you are an air traffic controller at a busy airport or a police officer in a large city, the likelihood of finding a stress-free work environment ranges from unlikely to impossible. If your current job is making you physically or mentally ill, then by all means you should start looking around. For the majority, stress will remain with us regardless of our occupational choices.

This is mostly because our society has become more stress and anxiety producing as a whole. The pace of our lives is light years ahead of what it was forty or fifty years ago. There are some positions that are relatively stress-free. These jobs are also very poorly compensated which might cause its own stress as you struggle to pay your bills or feed your family.

The good news is that there is a lot that both employers and employees can do to reduce both stress at work and the individual stress in our lives. We can learn and practice a few positive coping techniques. Employers can help us by providing time, space and other resources as budgets permit. Instead of looking for that elusive stress-free job across the street, why not put your energies into staying in your current job? Work with your employer and colleagues to reduce the stress. Make your job and your workplace healthier and more fun as well.

Reducing stress is not rocket science but it does take time, effort and willingness to change. If you continue to do your work on a never-ending treadmill of shifting deadlines, donít be surprised if your stress levels continue to rise. If you want to lower your stress, the first step should be to get the basics right in your own life. That means getting enough sleep, watching what you eat and drink and doing some form of regular exercise. Your body is like any other machine. It requires the right type of fuel and regular maintenance to run at its full potential. For more information on this, see the regular health and wellness articles featured in our newsletters.

You also have a responsibility to maintain your own mental and emotional health. If you donít do it, then who will? Find your own mix of healthy and relaxing activities that could range from reading to yoga. Find whatever works to let you shut down your thinking, working side and just enjoy your time off. Once you have done all you can to deal with your personal stress, you will be ready and better equipped to take on the stress at work.

Every workplace has its own built-in stressors, but for every problem there is always a solution. For example, if you have a publication that is due off the press every month, you canít eliminate all the stress that accompanies the looming deadline. However, you can reorganize your work so that other responsibilities are postponed or shifted to someone else while you get the publication out the door.

You should also try dealing with problems that arise sooner rather than later. The problem is usually easier to resolve when it is small, before it grows into a monster. For this strategy to work, you will need to be a bit more assertive. You may also need the cooperation of your colleagues and superiors. Keep in mind that asking for help is one of the best stress reduction solutions of all!

With the support of your employer, you may also be able to rearrange your work schedule to deal with more stressful times of the month. Sometimes itís not the work thatís making us crazy- itís driving to work in rush hour traffic. Maybe you can be a little less crazy at work if you come in a bit later in the morning or even work at home for a few hours and come in after lunch.

Even with all the support and proper planning, it may be unrealistic to think that you can eliminate all of the stress at work. You may just need a few instant stress relievers that can take care of the momentary madness that seems to take over at times. One of the best ways to do this is simply to take a short break and get out of the office. Go for a walk and clear your head. Take a few deep breaths. Once you feel a little less stressed, you can head back in to finish your work. You may just realize that your job isnít so bad after all.


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