Stress Management Techniques
Working in any job in today’s fast paced economy can be hard & stressful. The hours can be long and the work strenuous. During busy periods, you may feel a lot of pressure to meet the deadlines without sacrificing quality. At times, your breaks may be postponed because of a rush of customers.
Stress is a normal part of life. It is defined as anything that puts pressure on a person. Everyone needs some stress in their lives. It is the force that encourages a person to develop and grow. Without any stress, you may become bored and dissatisfied with your life and your job.
Unhealthy Levels of Stress
Too much stress can damage your health and well-being. It affects a person emotionally, mentally, and physically. Too much stress can cause problems on the job.
Some signs of unhealthy levels of stress include the following:
- Emotional changes such as feeling sad, guilty, depressed, afraid, or tense or frequent swings in mood
- Behavioural changes such as crying often, withdrawing from others, becoming angry and aggressive, losing one’s temper easily
- Fatigue or restlessness
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Misusing alcohol, drugs, or food
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Digestive problems, such as ulcers, stomach cramps, heartburn, diarrhea
- Nervous habits such as nail biting or teeth grinding
- Loss of hair
- Skin rashes
- Increased perspiration, dizziness, cold hands and feet
People vary in the amount of stress they can tolerate. Some people thrive on living on the edge, taking large amounts of risk in both their work and personal lives. Others do best when their lives are more stable and less stressful. Identify your capacity for stress and try to adjust your life to the optimal amount of stress you can manage.
Whatever your optimal stress level is, you can learn some techniques for managing stress. Some of these techniques can be used at work. Others relate to the way you manage your personal life. When you are experiencing high amounts of stress at work, it is helpful to reduce your stress levels in other parts of your life.
Life events, such as a death in the family, a divorce, or an illness, are stressful. What few people realize is that happy events such as marriage, a new job, or the birth of a child are also stressful. When you experience a number of closely spaced changes in your life or family situation, you can anticipate that your stress levels will rise. At these times in particular, it makes sense to pay particular attention to living a low-stress life.
Everyone needs balance in their lives. Although work takes up a major part of each day, finding time to relax, enjoy leisure activities, and take care of your body is important in managing stress.
Here are some tips for leading a low stress life:
- Learn techniques for relaxing such as meditation or deep breathing
- Build physical exercise into each day, including at least three periods of 30 minutes each week
- Keep your body weight normal for your height and build
- Adopt healthy, sensible eating habits and avoid junk food
- Do not abuse alcohol or drugs
- Minimize or eliminate the use of drugs such as tranquilizers, sleeping pills, painkillers, antacids, laxatives, and cold remedies
- Have a yearly physical checkup to keep track of your health
- Get regular and adequate amounts of sleep
- Find a way to keep on doing those things that you find really enjoyable
- Find some time each and every day to be alone and away from work and the demands of others
- Make decisions promptly and then stop yourself from worrying about whether the decision was correct
- Bring humour into your life by watching comedies, reading cartoons, sharing jokes, and funny stories, etc.
- Share your feelings about work and the problems you face with a friend or your spouse
- Find time to be involved in the community
Managing Stress at Work
When you work at a job you enjoy, you seldom find it stressful. Different people find different environments enjoyable. One person may like working in a very formal, haute cuisine restaurant (Figure 15). Another may prefer the informal, friendly atmosphere of a busy bistro. Yet another cook may prefer an institutional setting where busy periods are more predictable. Think about what setting you prefer when you look for work.
Take Responsibility for Making the Job Enjoyable
Think about what makes your job enjoyable or not enjoyable. Take some responsibility for making it a good place to work. Suggest changes to your supervisor or co-workers in a positive, constructive manner. Be friendly and take an interest in your co-workers. In turn, they are more likely to act in a friendly manner toward you. If company policy permits, organize some off-duty or after-duty social activities to build friendship and morale. Share a funny story with the other staff. When your duties permit, help others who are rushed.
If you are currently in a job you don’t enjoy and you have tried to make it more enjoyable without success, consider looking for another job. If circumstances preclude an immediate change of job, give yourself a time limit to look for other work. If you know that you will only spend another six months in the job, you may find it easier to cope.