Do you experience stress at work? Did you know stress affects your focus, productivity, health and creativity on the job?
According to the website Stress.org, stress-related costs in the US amount to more than $300 Billion per year including health care, turnover, lost productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees show up for work but are focused on their illness or other personal issue rather than on their work responsibilities).
According to the APA 2011 Stress in America Study, money (75%), work (70%) and the economy (67%) continue to be top sources of stress. Other sources include: relationships, family responsibilities, family health problems, personal health concerns, job stability, housing costs and personal safety.
Stress vs Burnout
Six years ago I left the corporate world because of stress and burnout. I became disengaged and lacked the focus I needed to keep productivity up. As a self-employed professional the tendency towards stress and burnout doesnâ€™t go away. Itâ€™s easy to think about work 24 hours, 7 days per week.
Whether you work for yourself or a larger organization, maybe you can relate.
How do you know if you’re stressed versus on the road to burnout? Below is a short list of symptoms you might experience.
BURNOUT: Disengaged with your work vs. STRESS: Tendency towards over-engagement with work
BURNOUT: Lose motivation and hope vs. STRESS: Low energy
BURNOUT: Detachment and depression vs. STRESS: You might feel anxious
BURNOUT: Emotional distress vs. STRESS: Physical response
When you or your employees are stressed and not effectively managing it, you may notice:
- A lack of focus, energy, and confidence
- Increased absenteeism and presenteeism
- Increased workplace conflict (conflict in the workplace is sometimes associated with depression)
- Decreased productivity, effectiveness and engagement
- Increased health issues (blood pressure, emotional well-being
On the flip side, with effective stress management tools in place you may experience:
- Increased health, focus and productivity
- Increased creativity and problem-solving ability
- Increased dedication and commitment towards your goals
- Ability to relate well to others
How to Manage Your Stress Before Your Stress Manages You
Managing stress and avoiding burnout doesnâ€™t necessarily require a lot of time and/or resources. Simple steps will get you on track to feeling better and improving productivity during the day.
Below is a short list that I use personally and share with audiences to avoid burnout, re-energize and re-focus, even when short on time.
- Tune in. I like to journal. Itâ€™s a low-risk way to release my thoughts and feelings without sharing them with others. (Sometimes I share, sometimes I donâ€™t want to share). A recent journal entry looked something like this: TIRED TIRED TIRED TIRED. That caught my attention. I needed to tune in to that message and recognize the need for a break. How can you tune in to your needs more during the day?
- Deep breathing. To settle your thoughts, relax your heart rate, and slow things down before you speed up again. This is the easiest way Iâ€™ve found to relax during the day. 3-5 deep breaths is sometimes all you need to feel better. What strategies work for you to relax and re-energize during the day?
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- Take a vacation day (Or maybe you have 15 minutes). Unplugging is hard. Start small. Maybe you take 10 minutes during your day without checking email or voice mail and spend time on you – take a walk, get some fresh air, drink some water. How can you spend a few minutes each day taking care of you?
- Get some exercise. Itâ€™s easy to forgo exercise thinking you have so much to do. Truth it, those moments when you feel short on time are when you need a break the most. Boost your energy and creativity with a walk, some simple stretching, or your favorite dance moves. Move your body. Youâ€™ll rest your mind, boost your energy, and improve your mood (Exercise releases endorphins, the â€śfeel goodâ€ť chemicals in the body.) How can you bring more movement into your day?
- Get help. If the strategies above do not help, consider seeking medical attention, coaching or counseling to talk through some of the issues youâ€™re experiencing and learn appropriate strategies for you. You donâ€™t have to go through it alone. Companies often offer EAP (Employee Assistance Providers) services that include individual consultations that are confidential and no fee. What support do you need to relieve stress and avoid burnout at home and at work?
You are a motivated individual. Give yourself permission to slow down (even for a few minutes) once in a while to stay on track, healthy (physically and mentally) and effective personally and professionally.
Your turn: How do you avoid work related stress and burnout? What strategies work for you?