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Remember that stress, if allowed to continue, leads to burnout, and whilst stress will reduce your effectiveness in the short term and make you ill in the long term, burnout will both destroy your effectiveness and make you ill immediately!

When you are feeling close to burnout (eg scared of going into work, anxious all the time), you need something to help immediately, and I suggest getting in touch with Personal Potential as soon as you can.

If you are not feeling so close to the edge, but are aware of feeling stressed, then adopting some or all of the following may be helpful:-

1.       Set yourself achievable goals, both at home and at work.
These are goals for which you have the resources, or will soon have. A goal is not achievable if you do not have the resources.

2.       Decide priorities in your life and work and stick to them.
Priorities that you set with your family or colleagues, rather than just to yourself, are the most likely to succeed.

3.       Either get help or delegate the work wherever possible.
It is a fallacy that you are the only one who can do things. If you try, you will become stressed, and then you will not do things properly. Therefore, from believing that you are the only one who is of any use, you will become useless!

4.       Decide which tasks can be done later or dropped altogether.
Be ruthless and ask yourself "is it desirable or essential?" If desirable, it can be left (or forgotten about), if essential, do it!

5.       At work, use the phone/fax/letter/email whenever possible.
You are less likely to spend time on chat or non-essentials than if you are face to face. However, remember that email communciations, perhaps more than  any other form of communication, can easily be misunderstood, especially when interpreted by someone who is stressed already.

6.       Ensure that deadlines are realistic.
Short deadlines are stressful and often unrealistic. Remember that if you miss a deadline, you will not please anyone.

7.       Protect your time, it is your most valuable commodity.
Your time is valuable. Remember that each hour that passes is an hour less that you have to live. It is therefore essential that you make the most of each hour in gaining whatever reward you wish, be it cash, health, love, respect or achievement.

8.       Learn to say no.
If you say yes to everything, or even to most things, you will overload. If you overload, you become stressed and are then of no use to anyone, yourself included.

9.       Leave gaps between jobs or appointments.
This allows time for overruns, preparation for the next task or 'personal time'.

10.   Set appointments with yourself for essential tasks.
And keep them! If you do not set appointments, the essential tasks get missed and you get stressed (see 4). If you do not keep the appointments, you get stressed (see 8).

11.   Do one thing at a time whenever possible.
Mostly, if you try to do 2 or more things at once, you fail to do most or all of them effectively. This failure leads to you becoming stressed.

12.   Make time for eating and relaxing.
Eating whilst working or skipping meals in order to work leads to stress and is thus ineffective.

13.   Take 5 minute breaks to do something different.
e.g. exercise, which is useful because it helps to relax the muscles that are stiffening up through tension and stress and to reduce the levels of the stress hormones in the blood.

14.   Spend some time alone each day just doing nothing.
Even short periods of quiet aloneness each day will be beneficial. They help to produce a sense of calmness and well-being and the effect is enhanced if you use a relaxation or meditation technique as well.

15.   Accept that sometimes even you are wrong.
If you always have to be right, then you are putting yourself under pressure to BE PERFECT, and inevitably, to fail, which is stressful. It is OK to get it wrong now and again or to do just a 'good enough' job. Remember that the only person who never gets anything wrong is the one who never does anything!

16.   Accept that sometime 'they' are right.
This helps others to be involved, reducing their stress and easing the load on your shoulders. This includes those close to you.

17.   Get others on your side.
If other people are on your side, they tend to work harder and to be more co-operative towards you, thereby reducing the amount of pressure (and thus stress) that you feel.

18.   Listen to others carefully.
Poor communication is a common cause of stressful situations occurring, and poor listening is the commonest cause of poor communication.

Listening is a skill that you need to practice if you are to reach even a 'good enough' standard.

 

  • Look at the speaker, maintaining reasonable eye contact but not staring.

  • Listen to what is being said, rather than evaluating it, judging it or waiting for your turn to speak.

  • Do not interrupt.

  • Show that you are attentive by nodding and giving little signs such as "hm, hm".

  • Be aware of your own and the speaker's non-verbal communication.

Remember, only 7% of communication is carried in the meaning of the words that we use: 63% is non-verbal and the remaining 30% is in the tone that we apply to the words that we use.

19.   Accept that other people can finish their own sentences.
This has a twofold effect. If you finish someone's sentence for them, it is a sign that you are either impatient and rushing things so you can get on with something else, or bored and rushing things, so that you can move to another subject (or person). Either way, it creates stress and, to a greater or lesser extent, resentment in the speaker, which may lead them to create more stress for you.

20.   Recognise that the person to whom you speak most is yourself -  and monitor what you are saying in your 'self-talk. Make sure it is positive and affirming, rather than self critical and destructive.

21.   Slow down! You'll be more effective and waste less time.
If you rush things, you tend to make mistakes and then have to start again. It is more effective and less stressful if you take your time and do things properly the first time.

22.   Accept that people make mistakes, and that's OK.
Just as you should not attempt to BE PERFECT, neither should anyone else, and therefore, mistakes will happen. If you kick people for making mistakes, it increases the number of mistakes made and consequently the amount of stress experienced.

23.   Use holdups positively to relax.
Getting frustrated, angry or impatient helps neither you nor the situation. Whether you are stuck in traffic or waiting for someone to arrive, use the time positively to unwind rather than wind up!

24.   Make some fun in your life.
The best way to relax is by having fun and doing the things that give you a buzz. If you are having a 'good belly laugh' the hormones released are different to the stress hormones and therefore help to counteract stress. Remember that having fun should be fun. If you are having to work at it, it stops being fun and starts to become stressful.

25.   Cut down on coffee, alcohol and smoking.
They all contribute to stressful feelings.

26.   Get some exercise, preferably out in the sun.                                  Exercise is one of the best ways of switching off the stress response and burning off the stress chemicals that your body produces. Being outside, and especially out in nature, enhances the effect in at least 2 ways, firstly by connecting with nature and secondly by getting your skin exposed to the sun, you make Vitamin D which is increasingly recognised as an essential part of avoiding many physical and mental illnesses.

27.   Be S.M.A.R.T.                                                                                     Making sure that your plans are SMART will help you to avoid getting overloaded and stressed it stands for:-

S specific, significant, stretching

M measureable, meaningful, motivating

A appropriate, acceptable, achievable

R realistic, reasonable, rewarding

T Timed, tangible