6 Ways to Reduce Stress at Work
Christmas is just around the corner. For a lot of workers, this means time off, relaxation, and holidays. But for those who work in retail, tourism and hospitality, Christmas is the busiest time of the year. The general Christmas stress is compounded with increased workloads, longer hours, and stressed customers. So what can you do to reduce your stress at work?
When we get anxious or stressed, we take shallower breaths higher up in the chest. Try placing one hand below your ribcage and one hand on your sternum. Which hand moves when you breathe? You want the bottom hand to move, to make sure that you are taking deep breaths and getting enough oxygen. If you feel yourself tensing up, make sure you’re breathing deeply and slowly. Count to three for each in breath and each out breath. You can do this while you’re working.
This is for your benefit! When you’re extra nice to them, chances are, they’ll be nice to you too. This doesn’t take extra time – just make eye contact, smile genuinely, and do a good job. People tend to mirror the emotions of others. If you’re stressed, your customer is likely to become stressed, which is more stressful for you. You want customers to treat you well, so make sure you treat them well first.
Your boss is legally required to give you breaks, but what you do in your break is up to you. Even if you only have a few minutes, do what you can to unwind. Listen to some relaxing music on your iPod, go for a short walk, or find a quiet spot where you can close your eyes. Make sure you can’t see or hear your workplace. You’ll feel much less stressed, and ready to keep working.
When your friends and family are enjoying their time off, it’s extra hard to get up and go to work. Make the most of your precious time off to fully recharge – maybe go to the beach, get a massage, or catch up with friends. And make sure you get enough sleep!
This is easy to forget when you’re working. I started working in tourism on the busiest days of the year, working 12pm to 5pm shifts. After a few days, I was tired and cranky, and not enjoying my job at all. Then I realised that I hadn’t been eating lunch, just a quick snack in my break. Once I made the effort to eat properly before my shift, I felt much better! This is a big danger for hospitality staff too, who are working when they would otherwise be eating. Schedule in meal times for yourself. And keep a bottle of water handy, especially if you’re talking a lot.
Attitude is hard to control, but very rewarding when you do. If you have trouble feeling positive about your work, think back to why you started that job in the first place. Something about it must have appealed to you. Take note of situations that make you feel good about your work: a compliment from a customer, an achievement, or an interesting person you met. What can you do to create more of these positive experiences? For more on this, see Flow at Work. And remember that no matter how good you are at your job, you can’t please everyone all the time. This is not a reflection of you, but some people are just miserable. Feel sorry for them, and move on.
Mirror Professional Development are running workshops for customer service staff in dealing with stress and conflict. Multiple dates in November, locations in Caloundra, Maroochydore, Noosa. Click here for details.