The holidays create all kinds of stress, and it can carry over into your work and, inevitably, into your interactions with children, coworkers and families. Here are 7 ways you can manage stress at work.
1. First and foremost, know what is stressing you. Make a list of your stressors. Identify those you have no control over and try your hardest to let them go. Identify those you can control & work on them.
2. One way to help the stressors you can control is to ask for help! I have a friend, Katie, who works at a child care center and is a live-in caretaker for her parents in poor health. Recently, Katie’s mother was admitted to the hospital. Katie spent a lot of time at her mother’s bedside to support and comfort her and eventually her mother pulled through. As a result, Katie got behind in her lesson plans and felt overwhelmed.
When my mother passed away, I took only enough time off from my two jobs for the wake and funeral. I was back to work the next day. I didn’t ask for help. I thought I could handle it by myself. I didn’t want to see Katie make the same mistake I did, so I suggested that she ask her coworkers and director for help and that they would understand. You are not a superhuman. It’s ok to admit when you need a little help.
3. If the stressors get to be too much, take a quick break. My sister takes her lunch out to the car at work and eats it there. She makes an effort to create a separation between work time and HER time, even if it’s just to eat and listen to the radio for 15 minutes.
4. Speaking of eating, make sure you’re not stress-eating. Ask yourself: am I eating because I’m hungry or because I’m stressed? If it isn’t because you’re hungry, don’t eat it, or chew some gum. Also, stop eating before you get full and eat slowly.
5. Laugh. It’s so simple, and it works. I was asked this week to submit my workload to my supervisor for review. Between the 39 trainings I’m trained on (plus 8 more by the end of the year), the 33 trainings I did in the last six months and the 22 centers I’m actively working with, her response was: “What don’t you do?” I responded: “Sleep.” We both got a good laugh out of it.
6. While we’re on the subject, get enough sleep. Sleep is incredibly, incredibly important for managing stress, but don’t do it at work! Even though I joked about it, I do make sure to get 7-8 of sleep on average each night. There have been nights that stress has kept me awake, but I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, chances are I’m going to be extra stressed the next day.
7. Last, but not least, count your blessings—physically. Make a list like you did with your stressors, but of things that you are thankful for. I have done this several times when I’ve been really stressed. It truly helps put things into perspective. Each time I do it, the list gets longer.
Here’s a small sampling: I’m thankful to have a job that I enjoy; I’m thankful that I’m getting married; I’m thankful that my family and I are healthy; I’m thankful that I have an awesome dog; I’m thankful that I have such fabulous coworkers; I’m thankful that I am able to love myself, even with all my quirks (and I’ve got a lot of quirks)!
Do you have any other strategies you use to manage stress, or blessings of your own you’d like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments.