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4 Ways to Manage Stress in the Workplace
November 12th, 2014
A guest post by Jennifer L. Niles, M.A., LPC, LMFT

Stress in the workplace is common, in fact, inevitable. And with the upcoming holiday season and the need to make year-end goals, it's likely only to increase. For leaders, these concerns can become overwhelming, leading to panic and feelings of despair, all of which can interfere with day-to-day business operations, and ultimately, the bottom line. This stress can spill over into family and personal life, working against the very things we value most.
 
Following are four simple steps you can take to help manage stress in the workplace and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
 
Create. Build a healthy and supportive working environment, one that fosters a sense of camaraderie among employees. Do this by promoting interaction among coworkers. Implement activities, such as group coffee breaks, monthly brunches at a local restaurant or home, birthday celebrations, etc. In doing this, employees are generating shared positive experiences that they can pull from during stressful times.
 
Empower.  Partner with employees in making important operational decisions.  Assign decisions for the company to employees that cater to their strengths involving planning, suggesting ideas for change, and scheduling. This could be a win-win as it decreases the owner’s workload stress. At the same time, it helps create a sense of ownership and purpose on the part of employees, both of which are critical to sustaining a business through challenging times.
 
Celebrate. Acknowledge stressful times and celebrate successes with employees. Recognize employees who successfully complete difficult tasks whether an important business decision, helping a difficult customer, or some kind of personal achievement.  This can aid in decreasing workplace stress and increase employee performance and commitment to the business.
 
Relax. It is not uncommon for workplace stress to continue after hours, especially now with permanent connectivity and the 24-hour news cycle reporting bad news. First off, set the example by knowing when it is time to go home and leave work at the door. Then, engage in healthy activities, such as running or walking, yoga, spending time with friends and family, spiritual life activities like meditation or prayer, a good book, a slow meal, or soothing music. All of these can induce the relaxation response and decrease stress.

Take control of stress before it takes control of you!  Set time aside this holiday season to express gratitude for what you have. Don't waste time worrying about the unknown, but rather focus on what you can control. This will help to minimize your anxiety at work, in your personal life, and at home.

Jennifer Niles is a therapist in the student counseling center at John Brown University and a certified yoga instructor.
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