Got Stress?

By Tricia Molloy

Stress has reached epidemic proportions, spurred on by change, uncertainty and fear in the workplace and the world.

Stress and anxiety compromise our work, our relationships and our health. A Gallup poll revealed 80 percent of employees suffer from job stress with nearly 40 percent reporting that they need help in managing their stress. Job stress leads to employee burnout, turnover, higher absenteeism, lower production and increased health care costs. As a project manager in this competitive environment, you are often asked to do more with less within unreasonable deadlines. While we often can’t control what goes on around us, we can choose how we respond to it. Here are three simple strategies to significantly reduce our stress.

1) Get Still. Do you have two minutes each morning to reflect, to savor the silence and your own wise counsel? If your answer is “no,” set your alarm clock two minutes earlier. Now, you have no excuse. Sit up in bed, take some deep breaths and make an intention for the day. The intention might be peace, high energy or focus. Or it may be in the form of a statement, like “All is well” or “Thank you for this day.” By taking the time to get centered before the start of each day, you are more likely to maintain your poise, patience and perspective as the day unfolds.

2) Talk to Yourself. Positively, that is. Studies show that we speak to ourselves 10,000 times a day and 80% is negative. We’re programmed to protect ourselves so it’s only natural that we often focus on the worse-case scenario. “I’ll never complete that project on time.” “I don’t know what to do.” Positive self talk or affirmations help counter those negative tapes and remind you what is true and what you’re capable of achieving. Keep it short, positive and in the present. Consider these affirmations: “I am a valuable member of this team.” “I am guided to make wise choices today.”

3) Write it Down. What are your deepest fears and greatest concerns? When you write them down, you take some of their power away and begin to recognize that it’s not as bad as you may have imagined. Putting it on paper is also the first step to formulating solutions. And, while you’re at it, take a moment to list what’s going right and let gratitude further diffuse the fear.

I strive to keep these strategies brief so you’ll read, remember and implement them. However, I would be remiss without adding a few more time-tested, stress-busting tactics. Exercise, eat healthy, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, limit your news intake, play, enjoy nature and share your feelings with trusted friends. But you already knew that. As the great philosopher and statesman Benjamin Franklin said, “Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” Wishing you sunny days!

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