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Coping with Workplace Stress
 
 

Coping with Workplace Stress

Introduction
This article talks about how we can reduce stress by being organized, delegating, avoiding burnout, communicating, dealing with different personalities and taking a vacation.

Causes of Stress in the Workplace
As our work life becomes more and more demanding, our stress levels are on the rise resulting in heart and other chronic health diseases. Whether the stress is caused by physical factors like noise, poor air quality, lack of privacy, or emotional factors like tight deadlines, restructuring, or poor training and management styles, the result is the same.

Handling Stress
Here are some tips that will help you cut your workload and your stress:

Be organized –

  • Prioritize your workload. Make a to-do list of the things you have to do for the day. Put the high priority tasks first.
  • Give each task a specific time limit taking into consideration your experience doing similar work, coffee breaks, meetings, etc.
  • If it is a large assignment, break it down into smaller manageable parts.
  • Do not procrastinate, complete each task as scheduled. Seek help in areas you are not familiar with.
  • If you are interrupted and assigned additional work, ask which of your current assignments you should put aside to do the new work. Asking this question not only tells the person assigning you work that you have a lot on your plate, but also takes the stress off yourself, by allowing you to change your to-do list without having to stress yourself wondering how you can manage additional work.
  • Set realistic deadlines for your work. If you are given unrealistic deadlines, re-negotiate with your supervisors for more realistic deadlines.
  • If you find that you cannot meet deadlines, talk to your supervisor well in advance (no one likes nasty surprises) and get additional help, reduce or reschedule any additional work you are involved in or extend the deadline.
  • If you are working on a large project, keep your supervisors and co-workers updated on your progress with regular meetings or reports.
  • If you are supervising staff, make sure they are meeting their deadlines especially if their deadlines are tied to your project.
  • Do not take on more than you can handle – this leads to poor performance in the end. It's always better to take on what you can handle and be successful.
  • Use technology to help you manage and maintain your schedules. Use the internet to see if others are involved in a similar project and how they are working toward meeting their deadlines.
  • Web technologies like blogs, Facebook and user groups can often be a great help and supportive. Use them to your advantage.
  • Have a specific time to check your e-mail and respond to it each day. Tell your boss and co-workers that you don't check e-mail each time you receive a new e-mail and if there is an important answer they require from you they should call.


Delegate -
If you are in a position to delegate then delegate you must. Delegation takes the stress off you having to do everything. People don't like to delegate because:
  • They are afraid someone else could do a better job. If you have to delegate, foster a team spirit with those you delegate to. Let the team win, that way everyone is successful and people will love working with you.
    Want to learn more? Take an online course in Stress Management.
  • They think they don't have time to explain things to others and rather do it all themselves. Training and mentoring may take up some time, however, the benefits for the current and future projects outweigh the time spent in training and mentoring. Build training time into your work.

When delegating work, try this:

  • Look at team members and see who is best suited to do a particular task.
  • Have a preliminary meeting to discuss the task and if all is well, assign the task to the team member.
  • Follow-up with the actual assignment, timelines for the assigned tasks and how they should communicate with you.
  • If necessary, schedule a one-on-one meeting with them each week.
  • Ask them to send small parts of their completed work for feedback. This is an iterative process and it helps correct errors or misconceptions right from the start rather than at the end.
  • Always be positive in your feedback but firm in making sure they know their responsibilities so they can execute them well.
  • Finally, when it's all over, celebrate with your team.

You will find that teamwork rather than a competitive attitude at work can reduce your stress levels.

Avoid Burnout –
Burnout happens when you are physically, mentally and emotionally drained doing excessive amounts of work for long hours with little rewards. Once you have reached burnout – the only way you can get back to being yourself is through rest and relaxation.

Use the following tips to avoid burn-out:

  • Have realistic goals about the work you take on.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve in your current job. (For example: Even if you give 110 percent, there may not be a promotion for you in your current organization since it is a small or mid-size company. In such a case, you are better off moving to a larger organization where your work would allow you to move to a better position.)
  • Avoid taking work home. It's always better to leave work where it belongs – at work.
  • Create a balance in your life. Don't let your job become the center of your universe. Build relationships with friends and family. Have social activities and hobbies. Life is to be enjoyed.
Foster good communication –
Poor communication can lead to confusion and confusion goes hand-in-hand with chaos.

It is so important to foster good communication in the workplace as it provides employees with direction. Everyone knows where they stand and what they are doing.

Here are some tips to improve communication:
  • If your boss is talking about something and you don't really understand what they mean always clarify by repeating what you understood and asking them if you are correct.
  • Listen to the other person's point of view. We are all different and sometimes what is easy for you may not be as easy for someone else.
  • Listen to the ideas of others whether they are good or bad. A good conversation is not about stressing people out, but about problem solving or reaching a consensus.
  • Keep communication as simple as possible. Sometimes it's good to prepare well in advance before you go to a meeting, so you know just what you are going to say.
  • Choose your words carefully depending on the situation. Never reprimand or lecture someone in front of others. If you have to do this, do it in private. Choose your words carefully at meetings depending on who you are addressing.
  • Listen to those who just want empathy from you or a shoulder to cry on.


Vacations

Take a regular vacation. Book time off well in advance and go somewhere different. You don't even have to leave the country if you don't want to. There are so many wonderful places to visit wherever you live. But try to change your surroundings.

If you don't want to travel (or can't), then stay at home, relax and rejuvenate yourself. Enjoy life, so you will be refreshed when you return to work.

Conclusion
This article discussed ways of reducing stress at work. Think about what has been discussed and work towards making the changes recommended to ease work-related stress.

Dealing With Frustration and Anger

Frustration
Frustration is caused by things in our lives that dissatisfy us. It's part of being human to feel frustrated, but we should not let it control our lives and lead to unnecessary stress.

Here are some tips to handle frustration:

1. Change your way of thinking and how you see negative emotions.

2. Humor is another way to deal with frustration.

3. Distract yourself by doing something productive like woodwork, sewing, painting or even praying.

4. Physical activity in the form of exercise and sports.

5. Relax, watch TV, or surf the internet.

6. Finally – massage, music or simply talking it over with a friend can help greatly.

In the weeks that follow, try to use some of these outlets for your own frustrations. Use the ones that work best for you.
Anger
Anger, like frustration, is a human emotion that we all experience. Anger is caused when we are hurt emotionally. Constant frustration also leads to anger.

It is natural to be angry as this is how we react when we feel we have been hurt, taken advantage of, opposed in our views or obstructed in doing what we think is correct.

Not being able to manage our anger constructively can lead to many difficult situations including being shunned by friends, co-workers and family. Anger can also lead to poor health.

Learning to deal with our anger is extremely important. However, only you can decide on how to change. There are several stages to managing anger:

1. Knowing you have a problem and seeking information and advice on how anger affects your life both physically and emotionally.

2. Trying to learn more about managing anger.

3. Making a decision that you want to change your life by managing your anger.

4. Taking action to making real changes by joining an Anger Management Course, or getting a workbook, tapes, etc.

5. Working your way through the anger management process and ensuring you are successful. At this stage you need to acknowledge you are human if you lapse into your old behavior patterns. But never give up.

Here are some tips that can help you control your anger:

1. Accept things for what they are without being frustrated or angry.

2. Drain off your anger and stress by participating in exercise or sports.

3. Don't hold on to your anger. It's fine to be angry, but to be constantly thinking about it is not healthy.

4. Talk about your anger and frustration with the person involved. Sometimes it is better for things to cool down before you have this talk. Never act on the spur of the moment. Giving yourself and the other person time to think things over is always a good way to go.

5. Use humor to calm things down.

6. Mail and E-mail battles – never get into one of these. Write your angry letter or e-mail if you must, but save it or delete it. It's always good to write down your thoughts but don't start a long drawn-out battle. There are no winners here.

Monitor your anger and how long you take to get over it. Use the tips provided to relieve your anger.



Dealing with difficult personalities
We don't live in a perfect world and can't expect everyone to be perfect. However, here are some tips to deal with difficult people:

1. Humans are very fixed in their way, so don't expect a difficult person to change or don't think you can change them. Accept them for who they are and try to deal with them as best as you can.

2. Find ways to compromise and find common ground when working with difficult people. Find something that interests you both. It's amazing how many people who were "difficult" turned out to be great to work with just by discussing mutual interests in animals, soccer or travel.

3. Disarm difficult people with kindness. Give them something they like--chocolates or offer to buy them a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate--when you go out to get one yourself.

4. Good planning and having a clear strategy is also a good way to overcome dealing with difficult people.
5. Give good feedback to people and also ask for feedback by asking open-ended questions like:
i. Is there another way we can get this done?
ii. What do you think about doing it this way?

iii. How did you manage to get all this done with your workload?

6. Listen well before you respond. If someone is being difficult with you, tell them why you feel upset, annoyed or angry.

Human communication can be extremely complex. However, we must take the time to understand and work with each other before we can bring about the changes we seek. As the great Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change we wish to see in the world."

Finding Closure
There are many things in our lives we consider unfinished business, things which we could have done, people we could have been with, places we could have gone to, things we could have done for others, or things we should not have done which have adversely affected our lives.

Sometimes life just does not permit us to do everything we want to do. If we are constantly thinking about things that happened in our lives, it becomes part of the baggage we carry around and causes us unnecessary stress. We need to find a way to:

  • Resolve it,
  • Forget about it, or
  • Shelve it so it can be tackled at a later date.

Four years ago Walter bought a business without doing his research. Four years later he is still saddled with it. He cannot sell it, he cannot shut it down because he will then have to pay the mortgage for the land out of his own pocket, and he cannot expand it to give him the income he needs, since he has no capital.

His stress levels have gone through the roof, just thinking of what he wants to do and not being able to achieve his goals. Finally, he decided, there was nothing he could do, and rather than worrying about it, decided to let the business go on just the way it was. This is a situation where someone did something they regret, but cannot do anything about it. So why stress over it anymore? Move on.

Think of the situation you currently have in your life that bothers and stresses you out and find ways to put them into one of the above categories.

This section provided you with tips on how to deal with difficult people in your day-to-day life, deal with anger and frustration and also find closure to those unresolved situations in your life.
 
 
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