Job stress tips

Stressed out at work? Have a look at our handy hints - of course it will work at home as well.

  • Personal knowledge to diagnose negative stress.
  • Positive thinking.
  • Motivation and attitude.
  • Change your thinking patterns.

Personal knowledge: This can be obtained through stress management courses, books, through talking to friends, through psychotherapy: Know yourself! You have control over how you perceive the world around you. You have a goal and purpose in life. Heal your emotions. Break through years of habitual, self imposed limitations and chains that limit your growth and development. Accept and love yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror first thing every morning and say to yourself (no ifs, buts or excepts!): "Hi you gorgeous thing, I love you!"). Seize again your inner power and take the authority back from the person, place, situation or position you gave it to. You allow your energy, sensation of wellbeing and rug under your feet to go to someone or something else.

Positive thinking: You have the choice in any given situation how you are going to react. Anything bad that happens to you in life can be experienced, grieved over, learnt from, lived through. It is the past. It cannot be changed. Your attitude is the only thing that can change. The only failure in life is not having tried. There is always a positive side to everything. Look for it. Learn to look at a glass half filled as half full, not half empty! Positivity is a learned response.

Avoid negative personalities or help them to become positive. Do not allow people to upset you. This is a simple piece of advice; however, it is not easy to do! It takes practice to realise that it is your own choice to become upset or not. Talk to positive people, not to ones who accentuate your already negative feelings.

Break out of self imposed restrictions and mindsets that limit your personal growth and that create stress.

Learn to take care of yourself. Don’t let problems control you. If you cannot come up with a strategy to effectively deal with your job stress or problem, get professional counselling. Find a counsellor and/or support group who can help you. Job stress can be dangerous and lead to serious disease and/or burn-out.

Start living in the present. Stop tormenting yourself with thoughts, guilt feelings and regrets about things that happened long ago or worrying about things that might happen in future. Learn not to let your attention dwell on negative things that happen or that people say or do. Don’t deny or suppress it, just observe it and let your attention focus on pleasant things.

Value your inner world - don't look for your worth in material things, other people, substances like drugs or alcohol.

You spend one third of your best years at work. You have to enjoy it!

  • Identify symptoms of burn out.
  • Identify the sources of and your response to stress (your stressors).
  • Deal with your stressors.
  • Tolerance, flexibility, adaptability.
  • Sense of humour.
  • Enthusiasm.

Symptoms of burn-out (negative stress) would include frequent infections and other diseases with increased absenteeism, increased dissatisfaction with your job or personal situation, inefficiency at work and pessimism.

Lack of feeling in control, information gap, conflict, blocked career, alienation, overload, underload, environment and value conflict are all examples of sources that can lead to stress.

Go with the flow. Don’t be rigid and disapproving. Accept other people for what they are and look for the good points everybody has.

Nobody has the right to judge anything anybody is or do! Just accept your fellow human beings as travelling on their own path in life. This will help you get rid of an immense amount of frustration, negative feelings and worry.

The choice of how you handle your stressors lies with you. You control your own stress reaction. Stressful events teach us about ourselves and motivates us to inner growth. It increases our awareness of self and the environment. Learn to observe how you react and change it from within.

Thought control: Keep a notebook and pen with you at all times. Whenever you encounter something that causes you stress, write it down in shorthand. Later, when you have quiet time, sit in a chair and mindfully meditate for 10 minutes on your accumulated job stresses for that day.

Become aware of your thoughts, reactions and especially your feelings. Focus on any muscle tension and tense feelings in your body, such as tightness in your chest or a hollow feeling in your stomach. Do this faithfully every day. This helps you to focus the job stress of an entire day into an intense period of time. You begin learning to confine job stress into periods of time in which you can give it your full attention. It’s your job stress workout similar to your physical, mental and social workout.

Eastern thought teaches a person to master his own problems by owning them. Once you can produce the symptom on command, you have the power to control it. Start and stop it whenever you want. By mimicking the symptoms on purpose and practising them, see if you can fool those closest to you. Are you really feeling stressed or are you empowering yourself and taking control over your symptoms?

Workplace culture: Adjusting to the “workplace”, or “corporate culture”, of a new job, is important in managing the stress associated with any career or job change. A first job, or move to a new job, is one of the most stressful events in your working life. Everything can seem confusing, strange, unsure, and you may wonder where you fit into the situation. To make the transition easier, take some time to observe and analyse the workplace culture at your new job.

What is a workplace culture? A corporate or workplace culture is a set of behaviours and codes which people use to manage their interactions with each other. This includes formal company policies as well as informal rules that you learn with experience. A move from one type of corporate culture to another can add to the stress of a new work situation. For example, if you move from a large formal dress firm to a small creative one where everyone wears jeans and T-shirts, you're going to have some adjusting to do. Behaving in an appropriate manner for your previous job could risk your being labelled as distant and cold by your new co-workers.

Read self-help books to help you to change your perspective in life.

Sense of humour: Most things and circumstances have a funny side to it. Always try and look for it. Force yourself to smile even if you don’t feel like it. You cannot feel down when you smile. When you practise projecting a vibrant, happy personality, you will soon grow into it and make it yours. Laughter improves immune function, general health and wellbeing and ensures longevity.

Enthusiasm: The word "enthusiasm" is a translation from the ancient Greek: en means “from” and thios means “God”. Enthusiasm is a quality that is very contagious and when you feel it, you cannot be depressed or stressed!

Gratefulness and abundance: Use daily affirmations. Say thank you every single day for at least five good things that happened. We tend to focus on the negative happenings far too often!

Deal with your stressors and learn to respond more effectively. You can avoid some, be better prepared for some. Take more control! You can change the stressor by quitting (follow your dream), communicating your feelings to your boss and co-workers, say what you expect from yourself and others, take regular breaks and manage your time. You have the power to take control! You're not trapped. You might have difficult choices to make but you can choose to stay with current conditions because it seems less painful than quitting, looking for something else, needing the security, etc. You may choose differently in future.

  • Time management, planning, organisation.
  • Deal with boss and employees.
  • When in conflict, negotiate.
  • Pace and balance yourself.
  • Form support groups at work.

Prioritise. Make a list of what you have to do. Arrange the items from most to least important and just start! It is amazing how the stress levels drop if you stop thinking about what you have to do and start doing the first thing! You take control of your time and what you do with it.

Deal with anger and fear by putting a space around the feeling, i.e. feel the anger: the beating heart, the rush of adrenalin, the fast, shallow breathing, the feeling of nausea. Stop, do the breathing exercise, practise the half smile, visualise the person who made you angry as a thoughtful, kind, generous person. Diffuse the anger and react from a position of strength and inner calmness. If you've been wronged, say it, but from a position of having reclaimed your inner power.

Relaxation and stress management techniques: mini breaks, stretching, belly breathing, creative visualisation, holidays, weekends away in nature.

Learn to say “no”! We often try to please everybody. Do not try to do too much.

Don’t work in a vacuum. Get together formally in groups or informally with co-workers and colleagues. You can identify problems and exchange solutions and strategies.

Read more:
Stress thrives in the call centre
10 workplace stressors

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