Handling Professional Stress

ICPThere are many factors in your professional life that can cause stress, including:

  • Your job description
  • Your workplace relationships
  • Your office environment
  • Working extended hours
  • Traveling
  • Commuting

Your job description

The tasks and responsibilities included in your job description can cause stress if you do not feel adequately trained for your position or if your expertise is substantially higher than what is required for the job. In addition, you may experience stress if the responsibilities of your position have not been clearly defined. In these situations, your stress will continue until you learn the needed skills, until challenges are added to your job description, or until your responsibilities are clearly defined.

If you have concerns about your job responsibilities or performance, schedule an appointment with your supervisor to discuss these issues.

Your workplace relationships

Good relationships with your supervisors and co-workers are crucial to an enjoyable work experience. To enhance your work relationships, you should strive to understand the expectations your co-workers and supervisors have of you and let them know your expectations.

To strengthen and build your workplace relationships, apply the following guidelines:

  • Communicate clearly and objectively.
  • Fulfill your responsibilities.
  • Avoid gossiping.
  • Show respect for others by being polite and maintaining a team-based attitude.
  • Look for common goals between you and people with whom you experience conflict.
  • Listen and try to understand others’ viewpoints.
  • Look for win-win situations.

Your office environment

Your office environment can cause stress if it is not comfortable. If your chair and desk do not fit you properly, and your computer is not positioned well, you may experience problems with your back, neck, shoulders, or arms. In addition, lighting and ventilation are important for your comfort.

To make your office environment stress-free, follow these guidelines:

  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor or positioned on a footrest.
  • Place your computer monitor and keyboard directly in front of you.
  • Make sure the top of the monitor is placed at eye level and at least 18 inches from your eyes.
  • Place the keyboard and mouse next to each other at elbow height.
  • Remember to blink while you work at your computer.
  • Use plenty of lighting and consider a combination of fluorescent and incandescent light.
  • Open your windows or use an air purifier to improve the quality of the air in your office.

Working extended hours

Working extended hours can increase your level of stress since it may require your work commitments to take priority over personal commitments. In addition, you may have little time left for completing tasks at home and for leisure activities.

To help you manage the stress of working extended hours, try some of the following actions:

  • Schedule a period of time each day to complete personal business.
  • Plan time for exercise or fun activities, and then go back to work if necessary.
  • Rearrange some of your work hours so you can have some time off while it is daylight.
  • Plan ahead so you can schedule business commitments around important family events.

Traveling

If you travel frequently for work, the necessary planning and packing can add stress to your life.

To reduce the amount of stress you experience from business travel, try implementing some of the following guidelines:

  • Keep a bag with personal items packed at all times.
  • Use a checklist while packing to avoid forgetting items.
  • Prearrange your travel from the airport to your hotel, as well as the return trip.
  • Reserve your rental car in advance.
  • Simplify airport check-in by requesting that you receive boarding passes with your tickets.
  • Inquire in advance about any necessary hotel amenities, such as special rooms for business people, nonsmoking rooms, and exercise facilities.
  • Maintain your diet while traveling by requesting specialized meals from airlines.
  • Plan a time for recuperation before you return to work, even if it is only a few hours.
  • Make a list of all the tasks you need to complete upon your return.

Commuting

Whether you drive or use public transportation, commuting can be stressful. Therefore, you should use the time in a manner that will make the trip more enjoyable. If you drive to work, find the least-hectic route and take alternative routes occasionally for variety. In addition, you should not complete any task that would be unsafe while driving.

To make the most of your commute time, try one of the following activities, or create your own:

  • Plan your day by creating a list of things to accomplish.
  • Write your grocery list or plan the evening meal.
  • Listen to something educational, such as a book on tape, a foreign language tape, or public radio.
  • Listen to something relaxing, including music, a talk show, or relaxation tapes.
  • Make work-related or personal phone calls.

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