Stress Management For Dummies
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One of the secrets of effective stress management at work is finding ways to incorporate a variety of stress-reduction techniques into your workday. By using these methods on a regular basis you can catch your stress early — before it has a chance to turn into something painful or worrisome.

Take a look at these surefire strategies to help you nip that stress in the bud:

  • Breathe. A day at work is usually a day filled with problems, pressures, and demands, with little time to think about relaxation skills. Your stress builds, and much of that stress takes the form of tension in your muscles. Drain that tension before it becomes more of a problem by trying some relaxed breathing.

  • Move around: Get up and walk away from your desk — get some coffee or water, make copies. Walk around a lot, and at lunch be sure to get out of the office and take a quick stroll.

    Stand up some of the time you’re on the phone. And if you have a cordless model, walk around. This gives your body a chance to use different sets of muscles and interrupts any buildup of tension.

  • Stretch and reach for the sky: For many of you, your days are characterized by long periods of sitting at a desk or stuck in a cramped work area, punctuated only by trips to the coffee or copy machine. Other folks are on their feet all day. In either case, stretching is a great way of releasing any tension that has accumulated in your muscles.

  • Soothe yourself with sound: If you can orchestrate it, listening to calming music at your work site can unruffle your feathers. A radio, tape or CD player, and some appropriate music can be very relaxing. Classical music, especially Bach and Mozart, works nicely. If these composers are too highbrow, try one of the “lite” radio stations. Just keep the volume down, or use a headset.

  • Lighten up: The right lighting in your workspace can reduce eyestrain and make your environment a more pleasant place to work. Go for soft and indirect lighting. Just make sure you have enough light.

  • Create visual resting spots: Give your eyes — and your mind — a break with photos, artwork, or a plant. At regular intervals, look away from your computer screen or paperwork and focus on a distant object to “stretch your eyes.” You can also create visual relief to your office by adding a few interesting objects. For example:

  • Organize your desk: How can a neater desk reduce stress? Well, because the source of many types of stress comes from a feeling of being out of control, of being overwhelmed. When your work area looks like a battlefield, you feel the tension growing. And when you can’t find that report you need, your stress level soars even higher. By organizing your files and piles, you get a sense (perhaps mistakenly) that there is some order in all the chaos.

  • Become EC (ergonomically correct): Your desk or workspace can cause stress for other reasons besides disorganization. The problem is, your body was not designed to sit and work in one place for long periods of time. When you sit in a stationary position for long periods of time, your muscle groups contract. The blood flow to these muscles may become reduced, resulting in oxygen-deprived muscles. This can lead to pain, strain, muscle aches, and fatigue.

  • Nourish your body (and spirit): What goes into your mouth from 9 to 5 (or from 8 to 7) can make a big difference in your stress level. Eating the wrong foods, or even eating the right foods, but in the wrong amounts, and/or at the wrong times can make it harder for you to cope with the stress in your life.

    When you eat poorly, your body doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. This means that you’re not in the best position to handle all the pressures and demands you must face at work.

  • Work it out: If you can swing it, one of the better things to do on your lunch break is to hit the gym or health club. Many clubs and gyms are conveniently located near work sites. A number of exercise facilities may even offer you a corporate discount for joining. Better yet, many companies and organizations have workout facilities right on their premises. Work up a sweat, take a shower, and then have a quick but nourishing bite to eat.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Allen Elkin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the director of The Stress Management & Counseling Center in New York City. Nationally known for his expertise in the field of stress and emotional disorders, he has appeared frequently on Today, Good Morning America, and Good Day New York.

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