By Richard Lindesay
Stress and Anxiety are common in the workplace, and reducing them can make a huge difference to how much you can enjoy your work and life.
Corporate work brings it's own attributors to stress and anxiety that are different from other kinds of work. Information overload and increasing demands can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which can seriously affect peoples' enjoyment and effectiveness at work.
Why do we have stress?
Imagine you're a caveman and out hunting for food. You are creeping up on an animal, looking forward to having a nice big meal for your family. All of a sudden a tiger jumps out from behind a tree and starts running ferociously toward you. High stress, a huge adrenaline rush, and the meal is now the last thing in your mind. It's time to do something, and that something is to get the hell out of there before you're ripped apart.
It's the mid 50s and you are a family man with a wife and four children. Work has been tough and money is tight. There isn't even enough food to properly feed your family, and in a few weeks you are going to be out on the street unless something drastic is done. You have high stress as something needs to be done to keep your family fed, clothed, and sheltered.
You live in a small but thriving town. The growth of the town has been constant, but not without it's difficulties. There is a neighbouring town whose battlements have always been strong and there has been constant threat of invasion. Over the last couple of weeks there have been rumours and stirrings, as it looks like the town are finally ready to invade. Stress is high, it's time to prepare to save your town.
Stress is there for a reason, it's a prompt that something needs to be done. And in the right circumstances it is certainly a useful response, at least initially.
Stress at Work
But what about stress in modern corporate environments? There is no threat of death or invasion, it's really rather safe. So why do so many people get stressed at work? The answer is that while there are no big things going on to cause stress, there are tons of small things. And tons of small things adds up to as much if not more stress than one or two big things.
Think of the typical office. These days offices tend to be open plan, which is a great economical use of space and is said to increase productivity because people can easily collaborate. But open plan offices add a whole load of mini stressors including the noise of background chatter, distractions from people tapping you on the shoulder, and sounds of other people getting stressed.
Also these days there are so many different ways of getting information at work. Not only do we have work that is given to us by our management, but there are the constant email, instant messages, phone calls, text messages, and even social networking messages. All of the mini stress from these distractions can add up to serious stress causing a whole manner of issues.
There are three key areas of focus that either cause or prevent stress in the workplace.
How you feel - reducing stress and being more relaxed
People have a base level of stress that they can comfortably deal with. If their day to day stress is at or below this level, they get by fine. But if things get too stressful and above the level they can comfortably deal with, problems occur.
Those with a low base level of stress can generally deal with more than those who have a high base level of stress. Those who have a high base level of stress only need a few things to happen before they're tipped over the edge.
As people go over their comfortable level of stress they deal with it in different ways. Some people will do something to distract themselves, such as smoking, eating, drinking, going for a walk. Those who enjoy their work notice that their stress is getting too high and reduce it without the need for the distraction.
How you think - reducing rigidity by taking things less seriously
People who enjoy corporate life tend to have flexible attitudes. One of their main attitudes tend to be one of being light-hearted and easy going, and therefore they don't get too stuck in one way or another and can instead adapt as necessary.
Such light-hearted people also enjoy themselves more, and therefore those around them tend to also enjoy themselves in their presence. If people are able to see enjoy themselves and see humour in things that would usually bother them, they tend to not bother them as much.
What you do - doing things to plan to reduce stress in advance
Those who enjoy corporate work and have low stress levels, tend to have systems to managing their workload. Such systems help them plan to avoid stress by having ways of dealing with incoming information, planning tasks, and managing information overflow.
In corporate environments there are many different ways that information comes to people. Information comes from meetings, through email, phone calls, text messages, and people dropping by the desk. Those who have low stress tend to have ways of gathering this information and dealing with it appropriately.
Now with all of this information there is invariably going to be work to do. Effective time management methods go a long way toward reducing stress and anxiety, as people then know what is important now and what can be left until later.
There is often a lot of information that needs to be kept and stored for later use. Those who have low stress levels tend to have ways of organising this information in such a way that it can be easily picked up later and understood without too much effort.
I suggest anyone considering therapy to first visit the Free Stuff section and download and read my ebook "6.5 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress"