By Joyce Coronel
Unless you own an air conditioning repair service or ice cream store, you’ve probably noticed that business is slow during the laid-back summer season in Tempe and West Chandler.
Everything changes once September rolls around though.
Organizations that haven’t met all summer are firing up their new programs and school and sports activities for the fall are underway. For most people, things at work get busier too, and that can mean added stress.
Although everyone experiences stress from time to time, chronic stress can have debilitating effects, including loss of sleep, depression, decreased immune function and other health problems.
The good news is that there are many strategies to help reduce work-related stress. The counseling staff at Catholic Charities offered several recommendations that might help bring back tranquility or at least make stress more manageable.
Taking a peaceful moment before heading off to the workplace is a good start. You might want to take some time gazing out the window, listening to soothing music, or even take a leisurely walk around the block.
While you’re driving to the office, be aware of your body. Are your hands gripping the steering wheel with Superman-like force? Focus on relaxing and dissolving the tension. When you stop at a red light, pay attention to your breathing and relax your muscles. Smile. And don’t check your phone or email.
Driving in the right lane and going only the speed limit is one way to reduce stress during the commute in to work. Make sure you leave home in plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed.
Once you arrive at your workplace, take a moment to orient yourself before getting out of your vehicle. Try taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly. Once you get to your work station or desk, pay attention to your body tension and let it go.
You should shoot for taking a 2-5 minute break in the morning and then again in the afternoon to unwind.
• Go for a walk outside the building if possible. The change of scenery will help you gain a fresh perspective and will also help decrease tension.
• Make sure you eat your lunch away from your desk. Take that time to visit fellow employees—but don’t talk about work.
• Before you leave for the day, make a list of what needs to be accomplished the following day. If you do that, you won’t be worried about forgetting something important.
• On your way home from work, obey the speed limit. Turn some relaxing or soothing music. Once you pull into your driveway, take a minute to relax with slow, steady breathing.
As you exhale, let go of all the worries from work. You’re home now. Leave work at work and change into some comfy clothes.
If you need help dealing with stress, you might want to make an appointment with a Catholic Charities counselor.
Appointments are available 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesdays at Holy Spirit Church, 1800 E. Libra Drive, Tempe.
Counseling services are offered on a sliding scale, based on a person’s income and family size.