Stressed out? Practical ideas to help calm jangled nerves

stressed-out-ladyBy Joyce Coronel

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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.

Information: 602-749-4405.

Joyce Coronel
Joyce Coronel has been interviewing and writing stories since she was 12, and she’s got the scrapbooks to prove it. The mother of five grown sons and native of Arizona is passionate about local news and has been involved in media since 2002, coming aboard at Wrangler News in 2015. Joyce believes strongly that newspapers are a lifeline to an informed public and a means by which neighbors can build a sense of community—vitally important in today’s complex world.

Comments

  1. A well intentioned article, and no doubt some solid advice amongst the many tips offered to help people deal with stress at work but it perpetuates the myth that if people in the workplace are having troubles dealing with workplace stress that the problem is with the people.

    There’s almost three decades of robust research and academic study on workplace stress, and the jury is in. If your people have a problem with stress in the workplace, the problem is almost always with the workplace, not its employees.

    We have to change the conversation, particularly the conversation being had in the popular press on the topic of workplace stress, and start holding our employers accountable for the workplace stress that they have created and subject their employees to.

    When we shift the burden of dealing with workplace stress to the employees, we are simply giving their organisation a get out of goal free card. Our occupational health, safety and welfare legislation in almost all jurisdictions makes no real distinction between the physical and the mental health of our employees, yet if an employer caused illness or injury to its workforce at the same frequency and intensity that they impact on their mental health, our courts would be full of senior managers and executives being prosecuted for the harm they permitted on their watch.

    We need to fix this insidious problem of workplace stress as it is having a huge toll on society, but first we need to see it for what it is. It is a direct consequence of a way an organisation is designed, operated, managed and lead, and the sources of stress will not be addressed by telling employees to chill out, toughen up, change their outlook or adopt other inward focussed strategies. The sources of stress only get addressed when an organisation accepts it accountabilities, seeks to understand the complex dynamics that are at play, and commits to eliminating, mitigating or reducing the sources of stress it has created, at an organisational level.

    But first we have to stop telling our already stressed out workforces that they are the problem and they need to be the solution, and start holding our employers to account for workplace stress.

    Alan Whitley

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