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Beating stress in the workplace

Published on 30 Aug 2004 by Stuart Harris

Does talking about stress generate more stress? Perhaps - unless you discover some strategies to keep stress under control in the workplace. See if you can identify with some of the following scenarios:

Alison is a partner in a major public relations firm and has been sitting at her desk, without a break since 7am, it's now 3pm and she's on her fifth cup of coffee. She tries to focus on the computer screen, but her concentration is weak, and she's distracted by the pain in her lower back.

Brian's secretary reminds him of a 12:30 meeting and his temper rushes to surface. He grabs his briefcase, barks instructions at his secretary and slams the door on his way out.

Alison and Brian are experiencing classic symptoms of stress. All this stress-related illness is costing the economy lots of lost dollars through sickness and low work productivity each year. Companies are beginning to recognise the impact of stress and taking steps to reduce the effects. Knowledgeable HR departments hire consultants, but individuals can take responsibility too by using the following strategies:

Smart Techniques to Alleviate Stress:

  • Take micro-breaks. Allow yourself to take short breaks, away from your desk, throughout the day. Staying at your desk will not help if you are unable to concentrate or feel tense.
  • Take deep, slow and regular breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, whenever you feel tense or under pressure.
  • Edmund Jacobson argued that an "anxious mind cannot exist within a relaxed body" and the easiest way to relax the body is to progressively tense and relax all the muscles throughout the body. Inhale and tense your muscles, exhale and release.
  • Be optimistic. If you are feeling anything but optimistic, ask yourself what is the 'worst that could happen and could I live through it?' Chances are you will say 'yes'. Then ask yourself 'what is the best that could happen?' Allow yourself to hope for it. Finally ask yourself 'what is the most likely outcome?' and then focus your energies on achieving that.
  • Seek counselling. Discussing your problems with a qualified therapist can help you identify sources of stress and reduce related symptoms.

Stuart Harris

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Team Building Asia

Stuart Harris has built Team Building Asia into Asia's most prestigious and effective team building company.

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