Stress-Proof Your Work Life
By Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP
drkoop.com Health Correspondent
In arrangement with
I could rattle off all the usual
suspects—exercise, sleep, nutrition, meditation, massage and yoga.
But you’ve heard all that before, haven’t you? And you’ve tried to
implement these stress reducers, with only limited success.
Unfortunately, for reasons that are beyond your control, you can’t
always fit these stress antidotes into your workday—and then what?
Don’t panic. There is one thing that
is almost always within your control: What happens between your
ears! What and how you think on the job has a major impact on your
stress level. And you can choose the way you think about events,
and what you decide to do about them.
But first let’s see if these signs of
work stress apply to you:
*You are often sniffling, coughing or
*Your concentration is non-existent.
*You are constantly ready for a nap.
*You have become grouchy and
*You are less efficient on the job.
*Getting out of bed for work feels
like having a root canal.
*Your sense of humor has evaporated.
*Your attitude toward work is “who
*You get into skirmishes with
*Even the fun stuff isn’t appealing
*Be honest—no one’s looking over your
shoulder—did you check all 10 signs of work stress? If so, you
aren’t alone. And even if only two of these signs seem to fit, you
can feel better on the job. Here’s how:
**Accept that the world is not fair—There
will be times when your hard work goes unnoticed, when someone is
chosen over you for an interesting assignment, or when you alone
are required to put in overtime. Rather than getting mentally
worked up about these situations, accept that they are just part
of the deal. It isn’t worth getting upset over, and complaining
that things aren’t fair will only make you look like a whiner.
Don’t forget that the unfairness of life may soon work in your
**You won’t turn into a pumpkin if
you make a mistake—Errors on the job are certainly
embarrassing and frustrating. However they rarely lead to anything
more than a reprimand. Mistakes often provide important lessons,
and they make us more accepting of others’ imperfections.
**Resist the need to be right—Insisting
on being right is highly stress inducing. First of all, there is
often more than one right answer. Secondly, unless you own the
company, this is not your “ball game.” If you disagree strongly
enough with your boss or co-workers, maybe you should join another
**Decide to learn something new
from each person and situation—You can always learn new things,
or get a fresh outlook. Leaving your mind open to this possibility
turns potentially frustrating situations into great learning
**Empower others on the job—When
someone comes to you for help, instead of jumping in and fixing it
yourself, empower that person to come up with their own solutions.
This will boost their confidence and lighten your load!
**Be solution focused—Determine
what problems can be realistically fixed, and fix them. Let go of
impossible goals—they are a waste of time and energy.
At first these changes will feel
uncomfortable, and you may find your ego or emotions resisting
them. If you stick with it, however, you will see how much better
you feel. Pretty soon these new patterns will become habit, and
work will be a much happier, healthier place. And you may actually
find yourself whistling while you work!
This information is not intended to be
a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use
this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease
without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please
consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns
you may have regarding your condition.