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Small but significant steps to cope with office-related pressure


Start the New Year right by reducing the things that keep us uptight, irritable and angry. The workplace which we inhabit eight hours a day, seven days a week, is the best place to start. The tension that we leave unresolved in the office can spill into our family relationships when we get home.

Monday: Organize your work habits

• Try getting up five or 10 minutes earlier to add to your time. This can make a big difference to how your day begins.

• Set your priorities before work gets under way. If you make a list, be sure you make it realistic and doable. A large leftover list will not help your stress levels.

• Work a little on large or daunting projects each time. This stops procrastination and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Tuesday: Create a harmonious work environment

Stress can result from a disorganized workplace with too much noise, mess, and stimulation. Find the cause of the stress and take action. You may not be able to get rid of the problem entirely, but you can do something.

• Organize your workspace. Make time each day to put your desk in order. Clearing the clutter helps to put your thoughts in order too.

• Pictures of peaceful scenes, photos of loved ones or a framed print or poster by a favorite artist will give your workspace a feeling of warmth.

• Check your light source—you may need a desk lamp—or get more natural light by shifting your desk around.

Wednesday: Shrink your worries

Worries have a way of building up and leaving you with a general sense of anxiety and discomfort. Do something with your worries rather than allowing them to intrude on your day-to-day living.

• Talk it out - share your problem with someone you trust.

• Distance it - imagine a few years from now. How much will it matter then?

• Attack it - take the first step to solving the problem.

Thursday: Self-talk and stress

We are all in constant dialogue with our brain, commenting on how we feel about things. Self-talk generally helps us to make sense of our world and get our thinking straight. Some self-talk is negative, reinforcing beliefs and attitudes we may have held for a long time.

• Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals and standards. Perfectionism is a self-talk “biggie,” as is comparing our performance with others. If you have a major attack of the 'I should haves', stop, take a deep breath and change the self-talk tape to one that is fair on you.

• Cultivate the habit of thinking "what's right with the world?" instead of focusing on what's wrong. Remind yourself daily of the people and things in your life that are good.

Friday: Quick and easy stress busters

Handling stress isn't just about dealing with big problems—if you handle small frustrations they won't build up into big hassles. Here are some things you can do at any time of the day:

• Monitor your breathing. Most of us don't make good use of our lungs. If you start to feel stressed or anxious, take several deep breaths, close your mouth, inflate your lungs and fill your stomach with air. Breathe out slowly.

• Take short breaks. Go for a walk, listen to music, daydream, or take a coffee break.

• Check your posture. Slouching is tiring. Stretch your limbs, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and program some exercise into your day, even if it's only five or 10 minutes. There is growing evidence of the beneficial effects of even mild exercise on mental health.

Article provided by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

For more tips on beating workday stress, get your copy of the December-January issue of HealthToday magazine in any major newsstand or bookstore.

work related stress

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