Be the boss of workplace stress
Whether you work in a cubicle crunching numbers for a large corporation, or spend your days pounding nails with a two-person crew, anyone can fall victim to job stress. While some stress is a normal part of the workplace, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity or even your health.
“Stress affects every system in the body,” says Mina "Mike” Kalfas, M.D.,  family medicine physician with The Christ Hospital Medical Associates. “The health of our mind and body are linked; it’s a synergistic relationship.” Job stress that goes unchecked can lead to anxiety , depression, weight gain, insomnia and even heart disease  and stroke .
The good news is you have the power to control many of the situations that lead to job stress. Once you learn how to manage it, you’ll feel better about yourself and your job.
> The situation: You accidentally hit “Reply All” to a message you intended to send confidentially.
How to cope: Take better care of your health.
Lack of sleep, a sick child, financial strains and poor diet in your personal life can all lead to mistakes at the office. Proper sleep habits, eating high-fiber, low-fat, whole foods , or just taking a few timed breaks each day , will keep you alert and feeling less irritable.
“Living a healthy lifestyle and taking time to focus on yourself will help your emotional well-being on and off the job,” Dr. Kalfas says. “You have to take accountability for your physical and emotional well-being.”
> The situation: Several end-of-the-month projects are due, and you miss a few deadlines.
How to cope: Practice time management.
Prioritizing your work deadlines, controlling procrastination and managing commitments can help you feel in control. When you’re in control, you’re less stressed. Try the following:
- Turn off the e-mail auto-notification or phone ringer to avoid distraction.
- Create a list at the start of each day and organize tasks by ‘Urgent,’ 'Important,’ or ‘Get to It Later.’
- Set aside blocks of uninterrupted time to work on projects with urgent deadlines.
- Delegate work. If you have interns, use them.
- Communicate with your supervisor if your workload is unmanageable.
> The situation: You’ve misplaced important client documents that you need to finish a proposal.
How to cope: Stay organized.
Disorganization equals inefficiency, which causes unnecessary headaches and stress. Use your PDA or computer calendar to track appointments and deadlines, and use a desktop calendar as a backup. Also, take 10 minutes at the end of each day to de-clutter your desk, scan your calendar for tomorrow’s tasks, and check off items on your to-do list.
> The situation: A co-worker steps into your office and the conversation turns into an argument over a project.
How to cope: Respect each other’s differences.
You’re not always going to agree with your co-workers, and you don’t have to. However, you do need to respect each other’s opinions and learn to compromise on issues in order to avoid tension and anxiety in the office. You might also want to:
- evaluate your attitude and make adjustments if you know you have a knee-jerk reaction to certain issues.
- communicate and ask questions to get to the root cause of the argument.
- adjust your expectations. No project, situation, or person is perfect.
- take a timeout and step away if the situation gets too heated.
If you’re still having trouble with workplace stress, call your physician. “We all have days when we feel anxious or stressed, but anytime these feelings interrupt your normal ability to function, it’s a reason to see your doctor,” Dr. Kalfas advises. “Your primary care physician is the gateway to the medical community. Not only can they be a sounding board, they can guide you toward the medical help you need.”
If you need help dealing with job stress, schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. To find one near you, call 877-904-4YOU or visit www.TheChristHospital.com .