Do you sometimes feel like this?
If you nodded your head, grunted “yup!” or showed any subliminal signs of agreement with the above question, then at least take some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.
More people are more stressed than ever before. And there are more varieties of stress than ever before.
There’s information fatigue syndrome and techno-stress.
There’s road rage, air rage and subway rage.
There’s office rage, cubicle rage and now even desk rage. Or how about a little internet rage or as some journalists are calling it, “e-rage”.
Whatever happened to just good old fashioned “rage”? (Surely Ben-Hur didn’t suffer from “chariot rage”?)
Regardless of what form it takes, it’s all the same beast – stress. And according to recent surveys, the number one source of stress in our lives is the workplace.
So what can you do, short off not showing up at work for the next 17 years? Fortunately, there are lots of simple ways to minimize your stress level. In fact, being the helpful guy that I am – I’ve compiled as simple checklist of 25 things you can do to help reduce your stress and maintain your sanity. And none of them involve drugs, illegal activities or throwing your computer out the window.
1. Get more sleep. Sleep deprivation is a major source of stress. (Just try not to sleep too much on the job!)
2. Balance your work and personal life better. Set realistic limits and set goals for your personal life the way you would for your career.
3. Sign up for a yoga, Tai chi or painting class – anything relaxing and totally unrelated to your job. (And then actually show up for the class).
4. Learn how to meditate and practice it! (If you’re really daring, try it out at the next board meeting).
5. Practice breathing. I know you think it’s something you’ve got down pat, but deep, relaxing breathing is a lost art form than can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being.
6. Identify the major sources of stress in your life. Until you know what they are, you can’t do anything about them!
7. Take a mental vacation. Close your eyes, and take five minutes to imagine yourself at your favorite vacation spot. These really do work.
8. Take regular holidays. Medical research suggests that people who don’t take regular vacations are at a greater risk of heart disease.
9. Take regular breaks throughout the day. Mini-breaks not only minimize stress, they can keep you more alert, creative and more productive in the long run.
10. Let’s get physical! Olivia Newton-John knew what she was talking about. Even walking up and down the hallway can get the blood and oxygen flowing.
11. Watch what you eat and drink. Coffee and junk food can contribute big time to our level of stress.
12. Develop an after work ritual so you leave the workday stresses at the office and don’t bring them home with you. Meditate, shoot some basketball, go for a run, go bowling, put on a silly hat . . . just do something!
13. Set realistic goals. A lot of our stress comes from the quest for perfection or trying to achieve to much.
14. Take a time management course.
15. Insist on stress management training for your office or for yourself.
16. Hold a humor in the workplace workshop for your office to learn techniques that your entire office can use to tap into their sense of humor more effectively.
17. Read a humor in the workplace book. (Check out our Humor at Work store for some great options.)
18. Create your own personal and/or office humor first aid kit full of props, funny costume parts, silly pictures etc. that will serve as Humor Aids (HA’s) to help you tap into your sense of humor when you most need it.
19. Practice mentally reframing your stressors. Remember, it’s not the traffic jam that stresses us out, it’s our interpretation of the traffic jam, so find a way to reinterpret the incoming data!
20. Ask yourself what’s the worst case scenario that could happen with this situation? Usually you’ll discover that things aren’t as bad as they seem on the surface.
21. Start laughing. Even fake smiling or laughing can produce the same physical benefits in our body as real laughter.
22. Change your physical environment. Clutter can contribute to a feeling of being stressed, so de-clutter, simplify and liven up your work environment with fun posters and signs or a goofy mascot.
23. Reward yourself when things go bad. Tie a positive reward to the main stressors in your life.
24. Phone a friend. Talking about your problems, anxiety or stress help reduce it, especially talking to someone totally unrelated to the situation that’s causing you stress.
25. Create a silly mantra, song or chant you can recall whenever you feel stressed.
Remember – stress is never going to go away any time soon. You are always going to have bad hair days, even bad hair weeks, but by being proactive, reminding yourself of the power to choose your own attitude, and choosing a few simple strategies that will work for you, you can maintain a healthier perspective, keep things in perspective, and keep those bad hair days to minimum!
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2013. Michael Kerr is an international speaker, trainer and author of “The Humor Advantage,” “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work” and “Inspiring Workplaces.” You can reach Michael at 1-(866)-609-2640 or firstname.lastname@example.org . For more humor at work articles, DVDs and other humor at work resources, surf on over to . Michael helps workplaces reduce stress, boost morale, spark creativity and increase productivity by putting humor to work.
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