by Laura Stack
The Productivity Pro
Is your stress spinning out of control?
People with high stress levels are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes, respond poorly to flu vaccines and catch colds more easily than those with low levels of work or interpersonal stress.
To sideline stress, you need to learn to shift your perception and the impact of stressful situations. Here are some hints on how to do that.
1. Take a chill pill. High anxiety can put a damper on your performance levels, so take psychological steps, like prayer, meditation, and positive imagery, to reduce your anxiety level. Or just forgive someone who's slighted you.
2. Actively counter stress. Your stress won't go away by itself; you may have to use effective stress management techniques to ease it. A massage, listening to music, and even crying can help you release built-up tension.
3. Seize control in small ways. You can't control a traffic jam, your company direction, or Mother Nature. Identify things you can and can't control in your daily life. Once you've done this, you can work on the things you have some control over, and let the rest go.
4. Turn off work when you're on personal time. You can't let your job take over your life. Re-erect the personal boundaries between home-time and job-time that electronic devices have so recently eliminated, or you'll be eaten up by stress.
5. Take full advantage of company-sponsored benefit plans. Don't let a desire to impress your employer keep you from taking advantage of your company benefits. There are valid reason for daily breaks, sick time, vacation, and the rest, and a smart boss will realize they're instrumental to recharging your batteries.
6. Avoid crises by working ahead of deadlines. Procrastinating can force you to do everything at the last minute, which just ratchets up the stress, sucks away your energy, and adds to the difficulty of getting things done.
7. Lose the Type A Personality. Type A personalities tend to be competitive, aggressive, dominant, ambitious, acquisitive, self-driven, and hardworking. Ultimately, these traits can have effects on your body far beyond energy drain. Seek help before the physical effects overwhelm you.
8. Don't stew. If you're stuck somewhere where you can't get anything done -- say, in a line at the bank -- it's better to occupy your mind than to stew. Pull out your handheld and answer email, or work on a Sudoku puzzle to keep your mind sharp.
The physical effects of stress are so wide-ranging and common that some experts estimate that almost half of all doctor visits are stress-related. So do what you can to take it easy; in particular, stop trying to control the uncontrollable, and instead focus on what you can control -- yourself and your reactions.
Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier with Maximum Results in Minimum Time. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. She is the bestselling author of The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).
Click here to buy a copy of The Exhaustion Cure.