In this increasingly-difficult economy, many of us try to cope with job stress (and we barely overcome). Regardless of how managerial our roles are or how high our salaries are, we lose control of our balance as each second passes. Thus, occasionally, we let down our guard when we ‘fire’ at our co-workers or at family members. That is when the traffic light goes red.
The Nigerian situation does not help matters too. Here is the normal routine of an average female worker – wakes up every day by 4 am with a loud groan, prepares her 3 kids for school, arrives some minutes late at work, deals with the loads of paper work and an overbearing boss, leaves office at 5.30pm, arrives home at 8 pm (works on the Island), starts cooking dinner, prepares tomorrow’s outfit for the family, writes her already late report by 11.00 pm, goes to an unwilling bed by 11.30pm, only to sleep for restless 4 hours to begin another day. (Phew!) Now, tell me if that isn’t enough stress.
While stress is a normal part of a work place, excessive stress will not only reduce your productivity level, but also lower your morale and lead to job dissatisfaction. Job stress can be caused by job overload, unclear job roles, physical conditions (light, heat etc), poor reward system, lack of freedom, difficulty at developing and maintain working relationships with colleagues and superiors, organisational change etc.
How do you know you are undergoing workplace stress? Here are some of the symptoms:
3. Low morale
…And here are tips on how to effectively handle the pressure:
1. Recognise the warning signs.
Some of them have been listed above. Others are high blood pressure, excessive sweating, over-eating, alcoholism, aggressiveness etc. If you ignore the red light, then you are calling for an arrest of your body system. You do not want to be caught red-handed.
2. Give your body a treat.
Now that you have recognised the signs, isn’t it time to give your body some rest? Give attention to your physical and emotional health by:
• Exercising your body daily which provides an effective means of lifting your mood, increasing energy, honing your focus and calming your body and mind.
• Eating and maintaining a proper diet, which reduces the gastrointestinal problems associated with stress
• Getting adequate sleep to keep you physically and emotionally balanced
• Avoiding alcohol and caffeine content, which cause fatigue and eat up the vitamins and minerals needed by the body.
3. Manage your time and tasks effectively.
Do not wait until the deadline before you start working. Organise your schedule in the order of importance so that you can balance your work life with other areas; and when you are getting overworked, you can delegate your responsibilities. Also, take occasional breaks, like 5 to 10 minutes when you can take a walk of sit back to clear your mind. Arriving 10 minutes before the start of work performs a relaxation-miracle. Try it!
4. Face challenges with humour.
Laughter has been described as the best medicine and is a powerful antidote to stress and pain. Besides bringing your mind to balance, it helps you connect with your team and keeps you alert. So, when next stress comes peeping, shut the door at its face with a good dose of humour.
5. Find your muse.
Inspiration provides an escape route from stress. While some people have found listening to music while working a boost to their productivity, others love to draw or take a stroll down the street during break. Finding and doing what motivates you goes a long way in helping combat stress.
6. Improve communication and employees’ sense of control.
Managers, this is for you. Do you know that enhancing communication strategies and implementing programmes like job enrichment, participative decision-making, and delegation of authority go a long way to make workers happy and reduce job stress? If you want to get the best from employees, you need to start working on giving them a sense of control and showing appreciation when the need arises.
Have you ever undergone job stress? How did you handle it? Feel free to share your experience.