If you still have a job
Going to the Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) luncheons might not make your job easier, but last month’s speaker taught listeners how to deal with their job-related stress. Terri Eudy of Grand Valley Health said not all stress is bad stress. She said too little stress at work leads to boredom and other undesirable results. Good stress can include a challenging job, the excitement of an upcoming wedding, or winning the lottery. Bad stress can lead to divorce, death or job loss.
Eudy said Americans are working longer hours than they have in the past three decades and are more at risk for psychological, physical and behavioral problems. A struggling economy adds more stress to many jobs, and people more than ever need to learn to manage their stress. Employers don’t realize enough how detrimental stress is to productivity and their employees’ lives. Unmanaged stress can lead to workplace accidents, diabetes, heart disease, jaw pain, loss of sex drive, and a host of other illnesses.
The first step in stress management is identifying the source of stress, followed by inventorying priorities. According to Eudy, three steps to managing job stress are taking responsibility for improving stress levels, learning to identify what is causing stress, and to learn effective communication skills to improve job relationships. The most important step in reducing stress is to keep your body as physically fit as possible, Eudy said. She stated that aerobic activity is proven to reduce stress, and also recommended relaxation and strengthening activities such as yoga. Preferably, physical activity should take place before stress occurs, so morning exercise can reduce stress before it begins.
Choosing healthy foods is also a key to fighting stress, and includes eating small, frequent meals, lots of fruits and vegetables, and lots of liquids (but not alcohol). Getting enough sleep is also important.
Identifying priorities can improve time and task management. Trying to do too much too fast can result in less productivity than setting a realistic pace for production. Stress can also result from simple bad habits. Identifying these-the need for perfection, the tendency to be late, and other self-defeating behavior-is the first step to eliminating them.
“Stop that stinkin’ thinkin’,” Eudy said. People who emotionally beat themselves up for past mistakes are wasting time and emotional energy. Sometimes learning to say no is required for those who take on more tasks than they can realistically complete.
When stress is present, take action against it by taking a break, listening to music, doing relaxation techniques, or putting problems in perspective. Talking to someone about problems can help. Developing a supportive network is another effective stress-reliever as is using humor to break the grip of stress.
People who cope well with stress usually have the traits of feeling in control of their lives, have a strong support network and are positive people.
Eudy ended with the challenge to begin managing life’s stress immediately. Have a plan that doesn’t add stress to your life. Do what fits into your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. Ask those around you for support. Teach others how to manage their stress.
Chamber luncheons are held every other month and are open to members and future members. The next luncheon is scheduled for Monday, August 3.