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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Dealing with stress at work

Written by Nisa Chitakasem

One in five people suffer from workplace stress, indicating that this is not something to be taken lightly. If you are being overworked or have a tendency to get overstressed at work, it’s time to think about how to get back in control of your work and wellbeing so that there is some balance that you can bring back into play.

If you are stressed and it’s affecting your health or wellbeing, this is likely to impact on others around you – so take it seriously and act now.

Here are a few tips to help you get your stress and potential burn out under control:  

1. Time Management is key
Cut down on inefficient uses of your time and on activities that are draining you.  Even if it’s tempting to go out anytime the babysitter’s available, cut down on these late nights, especially when you have to get up early the next day.  Prepare everything you can for the next day the evening before, once you put the children to bed. This includes clothes, documents, meeting preparation and so on.   This will save panic and stress in the morning when you’re trying to get both yourself and your children ready.  Create to do lists to help you stay on top of things.  Use them as checklists you can tick off tasks from.  It will keep you focused and also make you feel good when you have achieved each task. This applies to both parenting and work tasks-make separate lists if that makes it less confusing for you.

2. Watch the diet
What you eat can affect your energy levels and therefore how you cope with the amount of pressure you are under.  Cut down on ready meals, take-outs and fast food.  Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit and manage your diet.  The healthier you are the less susceptible to stress you will be. If you’re eating right, it will also be easier to encourage your children to have healthy eating habits from an early age.

3. Make time for exercise
If you do not have time to exercise, make time!  Early in the morning, after work, on the weekends or during your lunchtime perhaps.  Maybe even flex your working hours to fit it in if you can. It is important.  Keeping fit will make you feel better, give you more energy, make your brain work more efficiently and effectively and overall help your performance at work. You can also combine exercise with having fun with your children. For example you could go on a bike ride together, take a long walk in the woods or splash about in the local swimming pool.

4. Be Flexible
See if there is some flexibility around your work.  Talk to your boss.  Explore whether working from home is an option.  Having just one day at home every now and again can really help with your energy levels by cutting out travel and giving you more control over when and how you work. It also gives you more time and opportunity for sorting things out from a parenting point of view, be it helping your child with his or her homework or registering them for a new club.

If it suits the timing of the school run, get into work slightly earlier and leave earlier, or get in later and stay later in order to avoid rush hour and traffic.  You can reduce the time needed to travel and hence save a lot of energy, especially if you do have a school run to contend with as well as getting to work.

5. Manage your workload wisefly
If your workload is overwhelming and too much to handle, see if you can delegate it or get your colleagues and team mates to help out with different elements to spread the load. However, be careful not to assume that co-workers without dependents will necessarily have lots more time or less stress than you! It is important that you communicate what you are doing with those you are working with. This also applies to communication with your partner, nanny, schoolteachers and the children themselves. Even if your children are too young to understand exactly why Mummy will be home late, explaining things to them will help you form a bond of communication with them that can last a lifetime.

By Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition, a careers consultancy dedicated to helping you with your career choices and challenges. We’re passionate about helping you to find the right career path for you - whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career direction.

For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career Blog or find us on Twitter @PosIgnition or Facebook

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