The difficult economy and countless layoffs have many people feeling lucky to even have a job. But as companies continue to do more with less, workplace stress is on the rise. The mental-health charity Mind in the U.K. recently surveyed 2,000 employees. In all, half said that morale at work was low; one in five suffered from depression resulting from work pressures; and one in 10 had visited a doctor for stress-induced neuroses. Perhaps most telling, only 38% of the respondents thought their employer did enough to address the problem. It’s probably fair to say that these figures mirror those of just about any developed nation, including the U. S. Symptoms of workplace stress include feeling anxious, irritable, and apathetic. Many employees find it difficult to concentrate and suffer from headaches and muscle tension. So how do you survive without going bonkers?
One helpful Web site suggests these stress-busters:
Don’t be a hero. In other words, don’t try to do it all. The world will continue without hardly a ripple should you keel over. So you might as well relax. Ironically, a more relaxed approach frees your creative juices and helps you better handle heavy workloads.
Make to-do lists. Cross off items as you complete them. Plan ahead and stick to the schedule. This approach helps you feel less overwhelmed. In addition, if your desk or office is messy, file important things and throw away the clutter. Just knowing where everything sits helps you use time more efficiently and cuts stress.
Think positively. Sounds trite, but focusing on the downside of every situation drains you of energy and motivation. Pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments, even if no one else does.
Let go. Many things in life and at work, particularly other peoples’ behavior, are beyond our control. Rather than worrying about what others think or do, focus on the way you choose to react to problems. After all, you are the only person you can control.
And, an informal poll among stressed-out friends and employees provided these tips:
Shake it up. Occasionally jiggle your arms and legs while humming under your breath. (You might want to do this when no one else is around.) These actions are said to warm up the link between the brain and the body, helping you stay more fluid.
Don’t aim for “perfect.” No situation or decision is ever flawless. Trying to attain perfection in everything simply adds unnecessary stress. And when you set unrealistic goals or try to do too much, you’re bound to take a fall. Instead, just do your best. No one can ask for more.
Leave your work at work. Everyone wants to appear the model employee. Fat chance if you are a sleep-deprived wreck. Leave your work worries behind, and don’t bring extra work home.
Forgo heavy drinking. Alcohol can help cut the edge and might make you feel better for awhile. But heavy drinking doesn’t address the underlying problem. It might temporarily eliminate symptoms of stress. But in the long run, the ensuing addiction will only make you spiral further into the black hole.
What tactics do you use to overcome workplace stress? Send them in, and we might print them here.