You can’t eliminate the stress your employees bring to work, but you can identify and eliminate organizational stressors. And you can provide tools and information to help workers manage their stress on their own.
Stress management expert Susie Mantell (www.relaxintuit.com) is a firm believer in the power of incremental steps when trying to manage stress on the job and at home. Here are some ideas Mantell recommends that you can use for a safety meeting on stress management:
- Prioritize, streamline, delegate, and discard. When facing a task, ask if it’s really necessary to do today, if there’s an easier way to do it, or who might be able to help.
- Break it up. Take 2- to 3-minute breaks every hour throughout the workday. Mantell also urges employees to “commit to doing one fun thing every single day without exception.” Laugh, play a game, or cook a meal, as long as it’s enjoyable.
- Make time. Build time into your schedule for creative expression, healthy eating, moderate daily exercise, time with friends, and time in nature.
- Be on time. “Last minute equals high risk,” says Mantell. Running late creates stress in us as well as in others. Build in cushion time between appointments to allow for traffic and the unexpected.
- Send negativity flying. If a co-worker is on the warpath, visualize an airplane with an advertising banner over that person’s head. Imagine each negative word floating up into the banner, flying by and out of view. “Getting out of the line of fire can defuse a tense moment and preclude anxiety and stress,” Mantell explains.
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- Relax and watch what happens. Do mini-meditations or mindful breathing while you’re shifting between tasks or in line at the cafeteria. Getting a message, rocking a baby, rebuilding an engine, or playing an active sport can also produce a meditative state of relaxation.
- Get essential nutrients. Go beyond vitamins and begin to think about daylight and laughter as essential daily nutrients. Get outside and take in some fresh air, even if it’s just 10 minutes on a wintry day.
- Consider what you’re consuming. Rethink the role played by sugar, caffeine, and alcohol in your life. These can increase stress levels.
- Watch your words. Negative internal chatter and self-recrimination are distracting and demoralizing. Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend.
- Be kind. Do something kind for a different co-worker every day. Mantell points to the “cumulative, positive transformation that takes place when it becomes second nature to create joy and reduce stress for others.”
- Sleep on it. Sleep deprivation is threatening to become an epidemic in the United States, and stress is a major culprit. Try to get restful, restorative sleep every day, and watch your stress level decline.
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