“Have you ever felt so overwhelmed at work that you thought you might completely flip out, if you took one more phone call?”
You are not alone. The American Psychological Association found, in their annual Stress in America Survey, that 65 percent of Americans say work is “a top source of stress.” That was in 2012; we can surmise that this number has only gotten worse. The APA reminds us, however, that though we cannot avoid at least some work-related stress—it is manageable. Don’t stress yourself out about being stressed out because there are simple measures you can take every day to keep calm and carry on.
1. Create a Relaxed Work Environment
One of the first things you can address is your work environment. Take a look around and check it out. Look at the atmosphere of your office, the people around you at work, and even the neighborhood surrounding your workplace. Is your office cold and institutional, like a hospital? You might be a lot less productive and relaxed if your office feels like a hospital. Take some time to redecorate if you have to. Are the members of your staff crude, or grumpy, or just generally negative all the time? You may need to sit down with your team and coach them on their manner and demeanor in the workplace. The area where your office (or home, if working from home) is an important factor, too, and it should be a place where you feel comfortable.
2. Regulate Your Workload
Business owners take on an extravagant amount of work, at times wearing many different hats to fill in the gaps, and this is probably one of the most common sources of stress. Don’t over-work yourself! Given, sometimes there is no avoiding an excessive workload for a business owner, but the key is to know what you, realistically, can accomplish in a day and knowing how to say “no” to another task, or another meeting. Helpguide.org, a non-for-profit organization for improving mental health and well-being, says a good way to manage stress is to “analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks,” and to “avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day.”
3. Manage Your Time Sensibly
In addition to limiting your workload, it is also important to manage your time sensibly and efficiently. Get it down to a science. Get out your little black book, open Google Calendar, and examine exactly how long everything on your schedule is going to take. We often underestimate the amount of time that certain portions of our day are going to take. Plan to call it quits at a predetermined time, and make an effort to hit that mark, every day. You do not want to almost get through your scheduled tasks, and when quittin’ time comes around, you realize that you still have 10 more things to do. Maintaining a consistent, realistic daily schedule is paramount to managing daily stress.
4. Meditate on the Positive
Don’t knock it until you try it; meditation can be a very helpful practice. If you want to try it, but are not sure where to start, YouTube has guided meditation videos available for beginners. Not into transcending time and space? That’s ok. Really, just taking time out during the workday to deliberately focus on the positive can significantly improve your mood and general well-being. One of the key principles of conventional meditation is to clear your mind and concentrate on what you are doing. A proponent of meditation once said that if you are eating lunch, then just eat lunch; do not eat lunch while reading the news, while creeping on Facebook. There is power in focus. You can reach the benefits of meditation by simply sitting and thinking about the positive. What achievements have you made this year in business? How have you changed, personally, for the better? Take time to ponder this every day; it will encourage you.
5. Don’t Dwell on the Negative
All of us have the tendency to concern ourselves with things that have not even happened yet, and that may not happen, anyway. Furthermore (and this is especially true for business owners), we tend to worry about problems or events that are coming way down the line. Preparedness is a good thing, of course, but do not get caught up in anxiety about problems your business may encounter much later. Take one day at a time, and remind yourself to concentrate on the task at hand.
6. Exercise Regularly
We have recommended exercise again and again, in some of our related posts because it is so vital to your well-being, as well as your ability to handle the pressures of running a business. The APA urges people to “develop healthy responses” to stressors at work, saying that, “exercise is a great stress-buster… but any form of physical activity is beneficial.” Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which are well-known to reduce stress and anxiety, inspire euphoria, and improve heart health, to name a just a few of their benefits. Be sure to get out and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
7. Music to Keep You Moving
Never forget to rock out at work. Keep your favorite music playing in the background while you work, and you may find that it relaxes you and helps with concentration. Some music can be distracting, but you can always find something that will keep you focused while putting you in a better mood. If you have a Spotify account (an online, streaming music player—for those of you who are a little behind the times), you can choose from their huge selection of playlists that are each geared towards a specific mood. You might even try listening to audio of nature sounds like thunderstorms or the ocean, which are also available online. Listen to whatever floats your boat, but either way, it is a great tool to stay in a good state of mind while you are working.
Burnout afflicts all of us, at times. Here’s a post with 10 keys to avoiding it:
10 Ways to Keep from Burning Out at Work
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