Many friends of mine complain that for them work is equal to stress. Long hours, impossible deadlines, sales targets, back-stabbing colleagues, painful boss – they all contribute to perpetually high stress levels. However, if you were to look at things coolly, you will find that most of the problems are solvable; in fact, in many cases, we ourselves could be responsible for the dismal state of affairs. You can and must turn work into fun and, poof, the stress will vanish miraculously! Yes, I know you think it’s easier said than done but, believe me, it’s easy if and only if we follow a few basic guidelines:
* First things first – Make a to do list first thing every morning at work or at the end of a working day. Making this list will help you prioritise and maintain focus. It will enable you to do everything you should be doing for that day and minimises the chance of missing out on a particular job or on deadlines. The happy result – no stress at the end of the day!
* Don’t over think – Okay, you have a lot on your plate now but, believe me, over thinking about it will not help you one bit. We tend to over think about a given situation and then panic about how it will all be done. This panic blurs our positive thoughts and triggers negative reactions – anxiety, depression and anger. Hence, don’t think so much, you have to complete your work anyway. You have prioritised it and now just work on it. One by one.
* Reward yourself – Remember when you were a kid and Dad would say, “You get good marks in maths and I will get you an iPod.” The point is that it is in our nature to work harder to achieve a set goal if we believe that it will benefit us or will be rewarding in some way. So think of small ways to reward yourself after completing a task – these could be as insignificant as eating a forbidden bar of chocolate or grabbing a bite at a favourite cafe or, maybe, just resting for 10 minutes before getting back to the next task. You get the idea! Oh yes, before I forget, honour the reward or the promise you made to yourself. Don’t you cheat on that!
* Procrastination is the root of all stress – Don’t keep on delaying things, however daunting or unsavoury they may be. You prioritise and do it when it’s required to be done. Putting it off leads to delays which, in turn, results in the piling up of work. And that, my dear friend, is the cornucopia of all stresses in life. Someone once said that you should eat the frog first; that is, you should tackle the distasteful tasks first so that the other jobs of the day become easy-peasy.
* Avoid gossip mongers – You know who they are and if they have spoken to you about your colleagues, trust me, they would have spoken to them about you as well. Haven’t you experienced it by now? They talk to you about others, waste your time and you spend your energy processing what they have said, resulting in a delay in the work you were doing. Work piles on again and you get stressed. Or, you hear a gossip about yourself resulting in you feeling angry, sad or depressed and it’s the same cycle all over again. Stay clear of the gossipy types. They are no friends of yours.
* Anger does no good – So the Boss was unfair or you did hear a gossip about yourself or you didn’t get the sanctioned funds for the project or you did not meet the target – I can give you a thousand reasons which caused you to be angry. Did you get the desired result? No, you didn’t, but what you got was anger and its best friends – stress and a headache. Try to look at the bigger picture, try to control your emotions and channel all your energy into something positive, like completing the work at hand. Forgive a little and forget a lot. Try, you’ll feel good; you have to carry your laptop and empty tiffin back home, why add stress to it.
* Change your eating habits – A lot of people feel sleepy when they have rice in the afternoon. A lot of people cannot function at all in the morning if they haven’t had a proper breakfast. Food also affects your work. Eat a healthy breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day. It is a proven fact that people who have a nice and healthy breakfast tend to be more productive and cheerful than someone who is operating on an empty stomach. Have small meals throughout the day. Don’t over eat.
* Early to bed and early to rise – It isn’t just a nursery rhyme, it is the best thing to do for healthy and stress free living. Think about it, how many days have you been grumpy, over-stressed or angry because things haven’t gone as per plan? You may find that it’s all because you slept late, your body didn’t get enough rest and you still ended up getting late for office. Plan your late nights, your parties. I know you have to listen to the people around you but listen to your brain as well – it keeps throwing up these warning signals.
* Exercise a bit, daily – Exercise is a great stress buster. You don’t necessarily have to hit the gym; just go for a jog or walk in the morning or when you return home. At work, walk around after every 30 minutes at your work station, take the stairs whenever possible or take a quick walk outside the office. You will find your stress evaporating.
Let me end with a quote by Andrew Bernstein – “The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about these circumstances.” So think positively, do the things that I have indicated above and you will find yourself enjoying a happy, stress free work life.