(NNPA)—Properly managing stress at work plays a significant role in the ability to maintain productive results. Today, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports over 30 percent of workers are overstressed, suffering burnout that costs businesses $200 billion annually in lost productivity. Stress is increasingly a way of life for managers, executives and particularly those small business entrepreneurs trying to survive during economic crisis. Not only does the workplace provide stress for individual issues it also exposes employees to fellow team member daily problems.
In many organizations, the water cooler becomes not only a place to hear new ideas and policies but it also may become a place of stress. There are many ways to relieve stress at work and home. However, first it is important to identify the sources of stress enabling individuals to better make adjustments.
What happens in small offices where it may not be possible to escape the stress generated by others? How is it possible to continue working in such an environment? Initially, the best remedy in such a situation is to be honest, discussing openly with co-workers, superiors or at home with family members on finding ways to reduce stress. Learn to compartmentalize elements by not tackling everything at once.
Do you work well under pressure or do you need a carefully planned daily routine? For example an organized approach often provides a small business owner weekly or daily benchmarks which allow cost effective measurement of progress. At times, we may become overly focused in fast paced environments neglecting other parts of our lives such as relationships with friends and family. Or even our basic health care needs. In the long-term stress isn’t a healthy permanent fixture in anyone’s life.
Managing stress is about achieving the balance of elements such as work, family, fitness and free time enjoyment. Many of us are more susceptible to stress at work, but family and social environments can also exert significant stress in our lives. And in any of these areas when there’s extreme pressure we sometimes do or say things that, on reflection, we wish we hadn’t. Try not to let work be the only central focus of your life. Find a happy medium, be productive and enjoy what you do.
Symptoms of stress fall into four main categories:
Physical—headaches, sweats, panic attacks, raised blood pressure, nausea, sleeplessness, heart palpitations.
Physiological—overproduction of adrenalin, leading to tension, aggression, feelings of stress in the fight-or-flight syndrome.
Emotional—depression, feeling of inadequacy, loss of confidence, detachment, denial.
Behavioral—tunnel vision, temper, dismissive behavior, self-centeredness, irritability, impatience.
The most common causes of stress in the workplace are many times related. Some of the most obvious are:
•Lack of resources at work, not enough time, money or staff,
•Excessive demands by customers, accept life as it happens;
•Inadequate training due to lack of resources;
•Poor organizational skills that need better time management;
•Prioritize actions to make certain that things are done efficiently, and
•Understand how each individual response differently to time pressures try working out solutions
If time pressures in the workplace continue to impede productivity and quality, try to revaluate the workload delegation process by making it more efficient for everyone. Is the workflow being delegated properly to workers that fit the projects best? Is the workload assigned in an organized fashion? Are the project turnaround times reasonable?
Be realistic about the job. If it involves working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange expect big time stress. Pressure may simply be in the nature of the job or it may derive from how it fits in with the rest of the business. For example, in small business environments responsibilities cannot always be clearly defined with workers generally wearing many hats. The boundaries of the job title may need to be renegotiated. Clearer lines of responsibility, better delegation and prioritization can help reduce stress.
On a personal level, pay attention to your health by also creating positive surroundings. Remember, fitness is a medically proven stress reliever. Even stretching in your chair at work or going on a short walk can help alleviate stress. Schedule routine breaks and weekend vacations for balanced enjoyment.
Take responsibility for solving underlying causes of pressure if you can and not just deal with the symptoms. Sometimes life can be overwhelming when trying to balance caring for a sick family member, relationships and work. Talk with friends or co-workers to find new ways to relieve stress—ask for advice.
(Farrah Gray is author of “The Truth Shall Make You Rich: The New Road Map to Radical Prosperity,” “Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success” and the international best-seller “Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out.” He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website at http://www.drfarrahgray.com/.)