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Stress at Work
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A whopping 34 percent of workers are dissatisfied with how much stress they face at work.

Is your job stressing you out? Don’t feel alone. A recent Gallup poll shows only 14 percent of workers are dissatisfied with their job, while a whopping 34 percent are dissatisfied with how much stress they face at work. Stress elicited the highest level of dissatisfaction from a list of common problems––even exceeding recognition, promotion opportunities, and salary!

So what’s the answer? Obviously you can’t control technology, the world’s economy, or even how your coworkers or boss chooses to behave. But you can master the way you filter stress so that it takes a minimal toll on your attitude and physical health. Following are some tips for keeping stress at bay:

Remember: Stress Is a Response - The next time you are faced with an irritable boss, traffic jam, or pressing deadline, remember that the event does not determine your response––only you can do that. Deciding to remain calm is sure to lead to a better outcome than succumbing to emotions such as fear or anger.

Learn to Laugh - A hearty laugh relaxes muscles, reduces levels of stress-creating hormones, and lowers blood pressure. Furthermore, people simply get along better and perform more creatively in a fun environment. Have you ever noticed how a well-timed joke can cut through tension and misunderstandings? So it is with stress.

Be Gentle With Yourself - You wouldn’t remain friends for long with someone who constantly makes remarks such as “You’ll never finish” or “You can’t handle that,” would you? So why tolerate it in yourself? Negative self-talk doesn’t do a thing for your self-esteem or stress level. A positive mind-set is more than half the battle when it comes to managing stress effectively. When faced with a situation in which you are likely to feel defeated, repeat kind and positive words to yourself.

Take a “Technology Holiday” - Technology was supposed to make our lives easier. But many have come to realize that it’s actually a double-edged sword, creeping into our personal lives and increasing stress levels for most workers. Laptop computers, pagers, and cellular phones have, in essence, created a 24-hour office from which there is no escape.

Eighteen years of practice in the field of occupational medicine have enlightened Robert du Puis, M.D., author of How to Avoid High Tech Stress, of the dangers of technology. He encourages employees to take a technology holiday to reduce stress.

“Putting technology in proper perspective as a useful tool but not allowing it to run our lives is becoming increasingly difficult,” du Puis explains. He advises that escaping e-mail, voice mail, cell phones, and beepers even during the evening or lunch hour is a sound step toward lowering stress.

Just Say No - The less control people have over their workday, the more likely they are to suffer stress-related illnesses. Somewhere along the line we convinced ourselves that saying no is rude. We fear people won’t like us. Unfortunately this logic carries a steep price tag in matters of stress.

The next time someone asks “Got a minute?” try answering politely, “Not right now. Can I get with you later?” You might be surprised how well they will take it––and how much more control you will have over your workday.

Forgive and Forget - Commit to unloading grudges and anger in order to reduce your stress level. An added by-product is that you will be a much more pleasant person to be around!

One thing is for sure: Stress is a choice you don’t have to make. Your physical health, coworkers, family, and emotional well-being will all thank you for learning the important life skill of strong stress management.

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By Kathy Simmons. Excerpts reprinted with permission from Vibrant Life. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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