What the Employee Can Do to Relieve Stress and Overwork

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Many employers have sponsored stress management training for their employees

in recent years, with most getting high marks from those who

attend. But because so much of a person’s stress is self-imposed, employees

must begin to take charge of managing their own stress levels.

Here are a few stress-busters that managers can encourage their employees

to start doing, or to set the example, start doing themselves:

Understand the basic truth that each of us has the freedom to choose

how we respond to stressful events. Train yourself to become more

conscious of, and accountable for, making those choices.

Eat breakfast daily, drink less coffee and caffeinated soft drinks, and

start eating more healthy foods and, if overweight, in smaller portions.

Organize the work to be done the day before. Sort your in-basket

according to priority and work on high-priority items first.

Establish set times in the day to review e-mail and voicemail.

Let go of the need for perfection. Very few things really have to be

done perfectly.

Take all the vacation you have coming. Reserve those days on your

calendar as far in advance as possible.

Don’t try to do two or three things at the same time. Chronic multitasking

takes a toll.

Don’t bring work home with you every night. Instead, stay later or

go in earlier occasionally.

Let voicemail answer when you are extra busy and don’t need the

distraction. As someone said, ‘‘Just because someone throws you the

ball doesn’t mean you have to catch it.’’

Block out your calendar ahead of time to make sure you will have

the uninterrupted time you need to finish a large project to complete

several smaller tasks.

If you are annoyed or angry, speak up in a diplomatic way. If you

‘‘gunny sack’’ your frustrations, they will fester and increase your

stress levels until they come out in inappropriate ways.

Don’t hesitate to ask coworkers for help when you are trying to

handle peak workloads.

Take breaks to clear your mind and relax for a few minutes at a time.

Go outside for fresh air if you can.

Take lunch out of the office whenever you can, or just go for a

lunchtime walk.

Delegate more.

Create a morning ritual—either quiet meditation or reading time—

that can help set the tome for the entire day.

Block out your calendar days before it starts to fill up to assure that

you have the time needed between appointments or to work on

important projects uninterrupted.

Take a two-day getaway break to do what restores and energizes

you—and not just on the weekends.

Exercise every day, if possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask for flex-time, part-time work, job-sharing, or

other family-friendly conditions if it can help to make your life less

complicated and stressful.

Seek more sources of gratification besides your job—pursue a new

hobby (or an old one), spend more time with friends and family, take

more vacation days, travel more often, treat yourself to a massage, go

for a drive to no place in particular—whatever works to give you

more balance.

If you are in the wrong job or working for a manager who cranks up

your stress levels, create a plan to change your situation and start

working it today.

Get enough sleep.