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Stress Management

Everyone has their own definition of stress, and no one is exempt from even an occasional stress attack on the job. But smart people learn early in life how to manage their stress, instead of letting the stress manage them. The best time to learn how to manage your stress is before a stress attack occurs. Sit down and brainstorm about the last few times you felt stress at work.

Try to evaluate why you were under stress, and then look for creative solutions to your problems. For example, maybe your commute to the office in the morning is causing you to arrive late for an important meeting. If that's the case, simply make it a point to leave 15 or 20 minutes earlier. That might require that you get to bed a little earlier the night before, but when you have a chance to conquer the stress in your life, an adjustment in your daily schedule is worth your while.

Remember that you don't have to deal with stress by yourself. We all know people who are remarkably calm and relaxed during very stressful situations. How do they manage to stay that way? What about them can you observe that contributes to their well-being? Don't know? You could ask them for some tips. You might also consider taking a stress management class. Many companies offer them free of charge to employees. Alternatively, the YMCA and various other community organizations offer these courses for small fees. Failing all else, ask your doctor for a referral to a stress-reduction class. Your health insurance may even cover the cost.

SURVEY SAYS... We conducted an informal survey in our office, asking some very calm and relaxed colleagues how they manage stress. The survey revealed the following three simple suggestions.

  • Exercise: Many people swear by the practice of exercising three times a week, either before or after work, as a powerful stress reliever. Those who suggest exercising in the morning say they stay stress-free all day long. Those who exercise in the evenings say they sleep like babies and wake up fresh in the morning. What kind of exercise is right for you? Only you and your doctor can decide that. Some office favorites here are tennis, yoga, running, bicycling, and rollerblading.

  • Make Lists: On a pad of paper, list all the things you need to do at work for the week. As you complete each item, cross it off your list. As new tasks appear, add them to your list. Each day, before leaving the office, review your list. What did you finish today? What needs to be done tomorrow? Evaluate how well you're managing your time, and consider ways you could be more efficient. When finished, copy your list onto a fresh sheet of paper so you'll be prepared and organized for morning. Now when you leave the office, you'll go home knowing that everything at work is under control, and you're free to have a pleasant evening.

  • Change Your Outlook: When work and family pressures get too intense, take a break. Go out for dinner or a movie with friends. Attend a poetry reading or musical event to unwind and free your creative mind. Or just resolve to stay home, take a long bath, and read a book. Do something to pamper yourself and help you remember that you are a lot more than the sum of your various stresses.

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