Time and tempers are getting shorter in the office. What can we do to help our employees and ourselves to self-manage stress?
First, it’s easy to keep focusing on the future instead of spending some valuable time, as a work group or team, relishing our successes in the past. Good bosses can start by using more praise, thanking their people personally, proactively, and sincerely, for the quality of their work.
One of the keys to stress management is having proper perspective. Many people are worker longer and harder than ever before, just to keep pace with the economy, their financial needs, and their desire to spend time at home. We can all feel caught up on a treadmill, with no end in sight. This can lead to conflicts between employees with differing opinions as to what and how things get done. It can help for each employee to take a moment to catch his or her breath, pause for a second, and then provide an answer to a colleague that’s based on clear thinking over harsh emotions.
Second, it’s important to keep the concept of life-work balance in mind. It may not be possible to get it all done in one day. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.” This means that as an employee, you should be satisfied with giving your best efforts, knowing that there are a lot of distractions in the office as you try to meet your goals. As a supervisor, you should be flexible and realistic as to how much you can get done yourself, and how much your employees can accomplish.
As for personal stress management, the “R.E.D.S.” acronym can help: Relaxation, Exercise, Diet, Sleep.
Relaxation means taking the time, each day, to find a quiet place to close your eyes for a few moments and fully relax your body, head to toe. Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference in your energy level.
Exercise means that you try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Many busy people are buying pedometers and trying to log the suggested 10,000 steps in their daily work, home, and fitness routines. Exercise burns stress as much as it does calories.
Diet means that you steer clear of too many feel-good foods and focus on eating small amounts of healthy portions, in moderation. Too much alcohol, sugar, and fats add to stress levels and waistlines.
Sleep needs are a big key to managing stress. We are a sleep-deprived culture and most people rarely get the eight hours they need to reset their minds and bodies and prepare for the next day. Developing pre-sleep rituals like showering, listening to soft music, reading, or writing a to-do list for tomorrow by the bedside tonight, can help prepare your mind for slumber.
It’s always a good time to focus on two keys: gratitude and optimism. We all have things to be grateful for: good health, connections with family or friends, continued employment, some money in the bank, and hope for the future.
Finally, perhaps a little Zen thinking can help as well. Everything in life is a series of moments. If we take the time to enjoy the little moments at the office: a pleasant environment, familiar and friendly colleagues, and new business on the horizon, it’s all good.