Top 10 Suggestions on coping with stress at work from an experienced Coach and Motivational Counselor
(Published online at hrmanager.com and smartmanager.com)
1. Identify your reasons for working
If you know why you work and you keep that in mind at all times then you will find it easier to deal with the challenges and stresses that work regularly presents. Your motivation must relate to more (sense of achievement, social environment, training opportunities, job role) than your income otherwise you will never feel fulfilled.
2. When you are not getting what you want:
It’s time to communicate with your employer about your wants ie new projects, a change of job role, an income that reflects your hard work and loyalty, training, new challenges and so on.
3. Communication problems?:
If you have trouble communicating in a work environment, get some help from someone who is good at it. Friends, family, work colleagues and especially your training or human resources staff will be able to help you identify what, why and how you want to say it. Practice, take notes to the meeting, and breathe!
4. Build your support network, and USE it:
Make sure you have an adequate support network at all times. Who in your life can you count on to listen rather than offer advice and tell you what to do? Seek out these people and call or meet with them regularly because they are helping to reduce your stress levels just by supporting you.
5. Sleep and objectivity – an important mix:
Lack of sleep can heavily impact your ability to view things objectively. If you are not getting enough sleep then your perspective in life will be distorted to such an extent that you are not seeing things clearly, are probably not very productive and you are definitely adding to your stress levels at work and home.
6. Keep track of uppers and downers:
Watch your intake of "uppers" and "downers" – that means coffee, cola drinks, tea and chocolate bars or refined & processed foods (uppers) and heavy carbohydrate meals like cooked chips, burgers, fried foods (downers). While carbohydrates give you energy – there is very little value in these processed versions. The lower you feel the more likely you are to go in search of highs and so the see-saw gains its momentum.
7. Know your politics:
Politics can be a killer at work so stay clear of them as much as possible. Now this is often easier said than done – especially if you are bored, or feeling like you are doing more work than your colleagues. Workplace politics are also exhausting – because you are putting lots of negative energy into something that is not necessarily producing quick results. Direct, clear communication is the best (see point 3).
8. Keep business social too:
Stop and talk to your workmates each day. Many people enjoy the social aspect of working in a team environment but often when the pressure is on they feel guilty about laughing or enjoying themselves or they feel like they are wasting time. It’s difficult to sustain a consistently intense level of pressure on yourself for more than a few hours without it impacting concentration levels, stress levels and therefore your health. Take time out to lift your head up from your work and connect with the people around you.
9. Organize regular holidays.
How many weeks holiday do you have owing now and when is your next holiday planned? If you have a break planned then you can attest to how motivating it is to count down the days and to visualize what your trip is going to be like. If you haven’t had a holiday in a while then you too will be able to reflect on how monotonous everything becomes and how numb you feel. GET OUT on a regular basis – you will be a much happier person for it.
10 Monitor work addiction:
Watch out for work addiction – it’s real, it goes unnoticed (and is often rewarded) and it damages health, relationships, families, self-esteem and motivation. Like other addicts, the workaholic is using their job to busy themselves as a way of denying or squashing pain or "holes" they feel in other parts of their lives or themselves. Workaholism is extremely destructive and in some cases has lead to suicide. Look out for it in yourself, your colleagues, friends and family – and most of all watch that you are not encouraging it in your staff.
Sarah Waldin is a qualified Counsellor, Professional Coach, Training & HR practitioner. email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on any of the above points.