How to help your employees beat stress

Employee Training – Train employees in being respectful, preventing harassment, working as a team, & in how to resolve conflict, to further control stress at work.

Stress Management Training – A worksite program that focuses on stress, anxiety & coping measurement along with small-group educational intervention can significantly reduce illness & health care utilization. Training can include how to deal with change, physical symptoms of stress, stress triggers, fight-or-flight syndrome, & relaxation techniques, as well as efforts to persuade employees to develop multiple solutions for problems.  Label training as performance enhancement & require it for all employees.  This takes away any negative implications associated with stress management.  Invest in stress reduction training for employees, helping them understand root causes, how to react to stress, & an individual strategy for managing stress.  Train in the following personal stress controls:

Personal Stress Controls

  • How to mentally step out of yourself during or soon after a stressful situation, such as deep-breathing exercises, guided imagery, breaks, venting, or music therapy.
  • Change your response & calm your mind. Keep a list of everything in your day that causes stress.  Pinpoint how every item on the list makes you feel & then ask yourself, “Is my reaction appropriate or over the top?”  Understand where your emotions are coming from to find a healthier way to deal with them.
  • Eliminate the source of your stress. Find ways to regain a sense of control over your time & your surroundings.  For example, if you must endure a two-hour commute in rush hour traffic to arrive at the office by 9 AM, start your workday earlier so you avoid the worst time to travel.  If you have difficulties with your colleagues, shut your office door or talk them to resolve conflicts.
  • Vent to someone you trust, who listens & provides positive encouragement. In many instances, it is a good idea to speak with your supervisor.  As odd as it sounds, the supervisor has a lot riding on your ability to cope with stress & can be a strong resource.
  • Relieve tension & clear your head by doing something physical. Wear yourself out on the treadmill, go on a strenuous hike, do laps in the swimming pool — whatever you need to do.  The activity will get your endorphins pumping (the brain chemicals that make us feel good) & focus your mind on your body instead of your stress.
  • Start setting aside enough hours for a full night’s sleep, plus extra time each week for tension-relieving activities & self-reflection.
  • Single out a few good friends & family members to lean on. Research shows when lonely people are stressed, they experience higher blood pressure & more insomnia than those who have a strong social network.
  • Take time out for a moment to disengage from a situation, practice a breathing exercise, stretching, or relaxation, & then you’ll have a new perspective on where you are & what you have to accomplish. Take regular breaks, on a daily basis, walk around & get some fresh air every 90 minutes.  Do some deep breathing or shoulder shrugs at your desk, or even just close your eyes for one minute.  Relaxing is critical for creative thinking, strong relationships, & good health.
  • Recognize your body’s reaction to stress. Does your heart rate go up?  What about your behavior patterns?  What about your impact on others?
  • Set boundaries–Turn off your computer & cell phone during personal or family time. If the people you love are truly important to you, then show them every day with your words, thoughts & actions.
  • Stop being tyrannized by your emotions. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following:  Rethink your standards— if your failure to achieve perfection causes continual guilt & frustration, redefine what success means.  Reframe your situation—for instance; weather delays your flight to an important business meeting.Instead of stewing about the disruption to your schedule, which you can’t control anyway, take advantage of the extra time to prepare for your presentation or catch up on sleep.  Reassess the significance of the problem—will it matter tomorrow?  Next week?  A year from now?  Emotion magnifies the difficulty of a problem in the moment; perspective shrinks it.  Make sure you give yourself a steady dose of the latter.
  • Exercise & nutrition— regular exercise not only improves your health, it lowers your stress levels. Proven benefits include increased feeling of being in control, strengthened self-esteem, better regulation of emotions, & deeper relaxation.