How to Manage Workplace Stress During Tough Economic Times

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During tough economic times many of us experience some level of stress. For some, the level of stress can be mild and for others it can be much more severe. The economic turmoil that we face such as increased unemployment, foreclosures, lose of financial investments and retirement savings, bankruptcies, etc. can force many of us to experience tremendous stress. According to, Yahoo just announced that it is cutting 5% of its workforce leaving many workers looking for new jobs. For those employees who do survive these cuts, many will experience feelings of uncertainty which can produce stressful workplace settings.

Although research shows that some stress can be positive and help us perform better, excessive or prolonged stress can lead to a multitude of problems such as: depression, anxiety, insomnia, medical problems such as high blood pressure, headaches, heart problems, ulcers and even death in some instances.

The key to managing your stress is to recognize and learn how to deal with stressful situations. It is important to pay attention to your how you feel and the physical changes that can occur when faced with stressful situations. Failing to understand your tolerance for stressful situations and managing this pressure can lead to many problems in the workplace and even possibly losing your job. Below are some tips that can help you manage your stress in the workplace.

Start Your Day off Right
Starting your day off in the right frame of mind can make a huge impact on how the rest of your day will carry on. For example, you may want to start your morning off with some relaxing or soothing music. Listening to music can be done at home before you leave for work or in your car or train on your way to work. The point is to pick music that is calming and puts you in a more relaxed state.

Another way to start your morning off in the right direction is to get focused. Focus on what your grateful for and what you want out of your life. Keeping a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life and/or things you would like to get out of life can help clear your mind of any negative messages and start your day on a positive note. For some, a vision board which illustrates the things we want out of life by using pictures can be posted so you can view it every morning. The point of this exercise is to place these lists, boards or even phrases (on post-it notes) in areas where you will see them in the morning to help get you focused for the day.

Going for a walk or meditating in the morning can also help manage your stress. Getting connected with nature can help clear your head and be a great stress reliever before starting your workday. For those who like to meditate, the power of meditation can make a tremendous impact on creating a more stable, calmer mind.

Learn to Say No
Often times, many of us tend to over commit to projects or other work related tasks. Particularly during turbulent economic times we may feel a bit apprehensive to say no fearful of looking bad or losing our jobs. However, for long term success and managing our stress it is vital that we keep a realistic frame of mind and only accept tasks that fit in with our schedules. Saying no and keeping an accurate picture of our workload allows us to dedicate the time needed to complete the projects we already have on hand. Taking on too much will create a demanding time crunch and a feeling of failure as we fall short on completing these tasks. Saying “no” will not only provide us with a realistic work load but it will grant us a sense of empowerment or control over our lives. This feeling of control can drastically reduce stress that we are experiencing.

When we currently have too much on our plates and realize more work is going to be added, feelings of anxiousness and tension can develop leaving us with constant worry and more stress. It is vital to understand your work load and delegate what you can to others in order to get the job done. For some of us, we have this feeling that we have to do it all or we may look incompetent or simply we do not want to give up control of completing our work. However, allowing other competent people work on tasks can free up this sense of having to do it all on our own creating more control over our work environment.

Effective Communication
Learning how to effectively communicate with colleagues and managers can make a big difference in managing your stress. For example, when we fail to communicate our feelings or a specific message it tends to manifest in us creating pressure or tension. If we let these feelings sit for a long period of time we may start functioning at a very high stress level causing us to act or behave in a way that is uncharacteristic. It is necessary to focus on our thoughts and feelings and be sure to appropriately communicate these messages to the right people.

Breaks and Time Off
Although taking vacation or other days off may not feel “right” during tough economic times, it is important to take all the breaks and holidays that we are entitled to when managing our stress. Many of us need “mental health” days and by continuing to work every day without taking breaks we become overworked and exhausted. Remember to take a lunch spend time during this hour in a different environment outside of work. For some exercising or playing sports during lunch can help many of us to recharge.

Shut off Distractions
Be sure to stay focused at work and tune out any unnecessary distractions. Emails, internet, radio, and sources of news can be unconstructive. Messages conveyed through these types of media during economic times like ours can constantly be negative creating a pessimistic attitude. Staying focused on the task at hand and eliminating any unnecessary distractions can greatly reduce your stress level.

Leave Work at Work
Leaving “work at work” will help create a smooth transition when from work to home. It is so easy for many of us to bring work home with us especially in today’s day and age with email, blackberry’s, cell phones etc. but it is important to be in a different role at home in order to reduce stress. For some, simply changing your clothes when you first walk through the door will help make this transition smoother. For others, being more aware that your work day is done and consciously making your transition from work to home will allow you to enjoy your evening hopefully stress free!

All in all, the key to managing your stress in the workplace is to become more aware of how you are thinking and feeling when faced with stressful or unpleasant situations. Utilizing these tips will allow you control your stress more appropriately and create a more positive working environment.

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