Many of us have several areas of our lives that are important to us and we may well agonize over ways to juggle and find a balance between them all. Demands from work, home, family life as well as a desire to schedule in some of the things we want to do for ourselves can cause stress and distress to escalate. Stress is an all too familiar aspect of modern life but equally, if we’re feeling stressed in one area the repercussions will often seep through and impact on other areas of our lives.
That is why it is important to manage stress in the workplace, so that home, family and personal time as well as the time spent at work all benefit from a calm and healthy frame of mind.
Here are five tips to manage stress in the workplace:
1. Time can be difficult to balance because many tasks are time sensitive; children have to be dropped off and picked up from school at a specific time, some businesses trade during designated hours, work often has deadlines that need to be met. In addition to this we may have our own wish list, an awareness that time is passing and there are things that we want to schedule and accomplish for ourselves before we are unable or disinclined to do so.
Manage stress by ascertaining if some of the ‘must do’ items can be delegated, shared, worked in rotation in order to ease the time pressures. Some parents find that car pooling is a great way to share the school run. Home delivery can help with some tasks like food shopping, dry cleaning, prescription renewal. Work can sometimes be delegated and actually benefit others by helping them to learn and share the responsibility a little whilst freeing up some of your time.
2. Nurturing relationships with others can often help in managing time more effectively. Pooling skills, knowledge, contacts, resources can help by introducing an ally, supporter, someone who understands and wants to help. Also we need to recognise that it is up to us to take responsibility for our happiness, we have to be firm and discuss our hopes and dreams with those closest to us, put ourselves in the diary and claim time for ourselves.
3. Being fulfilled in our work is important in managing stress as many of us spend a large proportion of our life involved in our work. If we find that work is becoming increasingly demanding or unsatisfying we may need to review our options in order to introduce a happier balance into life. Sometimes looking to change our role, re-train, ask for help can bring about an improvement. However, if the situation remains the same and leaving is not an option, introducing quality interests into other areas of our life, fun, hobbies, good relationships with family and friends can all potentially help.
4. Earning money is important for many people as they have to finance their lives. Consequently, establishing a good work/life balance has to take account of the demands and constraints of today’s tough job market. Employers require staff to be committed, hard-working and motivated in order to justify their role, whilst many self-employed people find themselves in increasingly competitive markets, being expected to offer more and be better than their competitors.
Stress can be managed by establishing just how much money is needed for a satisfactory quality of life and then negotiating what sacrifices have to be made if more money is desired. Some people are prepared to sacrifice time with family, friends, loved ones, have their health affected through lack of sleep, maintain escalating stress levels for a period of time because of their desire for a bigger house, better car, fabulous holidays, extravagant lifestyle. Decide if the master plan is worth it; could it take a little longer and be less stressful?
5. Obligations are another factor that can cause difficulty in managing stress. Young children, elderly or ailing family members, friends and partners who complain of feeling neglected can all throw one’s life out of balance. Feeling torn, guilty, having divided loyalties especially if the demands seem justified can cause escalating levels of stress.
It’s important to prioritize and address the most critical or worthy requirements first. Young children need to have a regular childcare regime set in place to support their wellbeing. Other family members or medical support may need to become involved to help with ailing relatives. Friends may well be fine about being entertained collectively rather than having to spend several evenings on each individual relationship.
Managing stress and establishing an effective work/life balance requires a little thought and planning in order to clarify the best way forward. We need to prioritize the different areas of our lives and be clear about what’s important to us. Ensuring that we look after ourselves, exercise, feel fulfilled with our roles at work, home, with friends plus enjoy some time for ourselves can require a little tenacity and planning but it’s worth it in the end.
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.
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