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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Effective Actions to Manage Stress

June 21, 2012

I attended a workshop at the Manitoba Tourism Education Council called Managing Workplace Stress– A Survival Guide. I wanted to share some of the ideas and tips I learned with you.

We can allow stress to manage us or we can choose to manage stress. There are many different methods out there and just like the causes of stress are individual, so are the solutions. Finding the ones that work for you is a matter of trial and error. Some suggestions are listed below.

1. Think positively: the idea is to try to avoid negative thinking and over-analyzing what co-workers have said or done, as this increases your stress levels. If we allow the negative self-talk to start, it can spiral out of control.

2. Be realistic: As much as you may want to be Superman or Superwoman, you can’t be. Be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish. There is no point in trying to complete a two hour task in 45 minutes.

3. Set Goals: Being realistic doesn’t mean that you should not have goals. Absolutely do so. Goals help you move from negative situations to positive situations; goals provide motivation and direction. Just remember to prioritize your goals and focus on the most important ones first. Recognize that you may need to give something up in order to achieve your goal and break large goals into smaller goals, so that they are more manageable.

4. Stop procrastinating: When you procrastinate or delay a challenging or difficult task, you increase your stress level. Instead of doing it, you think about, you stew about and you worry about it. Getting into the habit of attacking your to do list, instead of pushing it to the side, will reduce your stress level.

5. Learn to say “no”: We sometimes put additional stress on ourselves when we agree to take on more than we can handle. When someone asks you to do something, even if it is something we would like to do but simply don’t have the time for, it can be very difficult to say no. Examples:

Clarify your reason, without making excuses, for being unable to help.  ” I can’t right now because I have another project that is due by 5 p.m. today.” or ” I don’t have time today, but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning.” or “Yes, I can help you by filing this paperwork and will get that done for you tomorrow morning.”

6. Find the Funny: Humor is another great stress reliever. It has been scientifically proven that a good belly laugh lowers blood pressure, reduces hormones created by stress, gives the immune system a boost, and creates a sense of well-being and happiness.

7. Get organized: Look around. If you would rather work around your clutter than deal with it, you could be inviting more stress into your life than necessary. Eliminate clutter, set up an effective filing system, gather essential tools, and manage workflow, and you will be on your way to creating an effective, less stressful workplace.

8. Assess yourself: Sometimes we are the cause of stress in the workplace.  Take a moment to honestly consider how you treat those around you.  Are you in any way contributing to the stressful environment in your workplace? If you are in a supervisory/management position, are you recognizing and rewarding your team members for their efforts? Are you being overly demanding? Are you providing the training and support that they need in order to succeed? Remember, your success depends on their success.

I hope you find the suggestions useful.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them.” Denis Waitley