Developing Stress Management Skills

Life is stressful.

And life is becoming increasingly stressful. Given the current economic situation, jobs are scarce and becoming scarcer, and job security has quickly become a thing of the past. If you're fortunate to still have a job, the stress levels from your job are climbing too. If the pressures of your job and the economy are getting to you, here are a few things that you can do to try and lower your stress levels, and the negative physical consequences of being in a stressful situation.

1. Relaxing your neck by doing head turning exercises
Many headaches are caused by the muscles in your neck and shoulders being tight. The best way of getting rid of this kind of stress headache is to relax the muscles in your neck. You can do this by stretching your muscles. Turn your head from side-to-side. Stretch out your arms and move them around to loosen up the muscles in your shoulders. If you can take a moment to get out of your chair, try slowly stretching your back. Don't do the stretches etc. too quickly -- you want to slowly stretch the muscles out. Aside from the back stretches, you can do the stretching movements and the head turns while sitting at your desk.

2. Ergonomics
Ergonomics is more than just a buzz word. Body positioning when doing repetitive movements is important to prevent muscle stress and possible injury. Check out a book or website on ergonomics, and learn the things you need to change in order to make your workstation more ergonomic. Sometimes, simply adjusting the height of your chair, or keeping your feet on a low footrest can relieve the muscle stress in your back and shoulders. If you use a computer for your job, make sure that the screen is at eyelevel, and that the keyboard and mouse pad are at the right height and position. Often, just dropping the level of the keyboard can be enough to relax the muscles in your shoulders, and will allow you to avoid many stress headaches.

3. Manage your time
A common stressor is the pressure caused by impending deadlines. To avoid deadline problems, learn how to manage your time better, so that you can accomplish your tasks and projects more efficiently. Avoiding time pressures will not only prevent the development of stress issues, it will also enable you to work better and to do better work. It certainly will enable you to think clearly, and perhaps be more creative. Even small time pressures can often cascade into major time pressures. Managing your time well will make things better for you.

4. Take a breather
Mentally get away from your job. By that, I mean, close your eyes and relax. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose for a moment or two. Stop thinking about what you're doing, and let your mind relax and wander. Closing your eyes and breathing deeply will give your mind a moment to "catch its breath", and will re-energize you. In those brief seconds, your muscles should relax, your breathing should adopt a slow deep relaxed rhythm, and you'll find that you can focus mentally on the task at hand.

5. Laughter is the best medicine
It may be an axiom, but medical science has proved it to be true -- laughter will make you better. Laughing will force your body and your mind to relax. It forces you to breathe in deeply, which re-oxygenates your blood and re-energizes your body. Take time to laugh with co-workers. If you're allowed to wear headphones, don't just listen to music -- listen to standup comedians and their routines. You may get strange looks from those around you as you laugh hysterically, but you'll feel much better physically and mentally, and you should find that you can get your tasks done more quickly than normal.

These are five simple ways of helping you deal with stress in the workplace.

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