I didn't need a new survey from the world's largest temporary-job agency to tell me that working people are feeling stressed. Who isn't? The genius who fixes my car; the bag-packer at Whole Paycheck; the stranger on the running path struggling to keep up with her two poodles and a Pomeranian: Everyone, everywhere I go, is reporting more anxiety, more tension and less energy. And most people are complaining without even being asked. These are stressful times. And the ever present, wildly alarming drumbeat of "What's Really Happening in America?" isn't helping one bit.
"More than half (52 percent) of workers said they are stressed at work on a day-to-day basis," according to a new survey by the staffing firm Accountemps. Only 52 percent? Could that be an alternative fact? "Business is moving faster than ever, and employees feel the crunch," a top executive with the company reports. "Managers should look for signs their staff is overworked ... and talk to employees to pinpoint triggers and implement stress-relieving solutions."
Yes! "Stress-relieving solutions" is one of my middle names. If you're one of the huddled masses yearning to be free of your workplace stress and stay healthy on the job, take action. Here are some steps to consider before you crash and burn and end up with the worst flu of your life:
TIME MANAGEMENT IS A LEARNABLE SKILL. Stress builds and makes you sick when you think you have too much to do, with too little time, no control and no downtime in sight. That's when you stop, take a few deep breaths, and focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is the new normal, but so is job burnout and chronic anxiety. Meanwhile, we're learning that people who multitask do everything less well. How's that for stress reduction?
To ease that feeling of being overwhelmed by work, take action. Don't suffer in silence. Read time-management articles or talk to a trusted boss or mentor who can help you get a handle on staying on task. Successful people -- in business and in life -- learn to speak up when something is getting in the way of their success. When workers are happy and productive, it's a win-win situation for everyone's bottom line.
CALMING YOUR MIND IS A LEARNABLE SKILL. Ask your employer -- or your spouse -- if you are a candidate for mind management skills, also known as meditation or mindfulness training. It all comes down to the same ancient healing practice: time on a chair or a cushion, being quiet, going inside, noticing what's going on, coming back to your breath, always feeling calmer and refreshed 10 to 20 minutes later.
If your workplace doesn't offer a quiet zone, create your own. Overcome all obstacles. Find a quiet corner and close your eyes; go for a 10-minute walking meditation around the block; put on your headphones and zone out to one of many meditation apps. Once you know what you have to do to refresh your brain and boost your well-being, you will take the time you need, with or without a corporate program in place.
COMMIT TO A WORKPLACE WORKOUT EVERY DAY. You don't need an official gym or fitness center to work out in the workplace. If you've got that perk, congratulations, but if you don't, start where you are. Walk the steps. Stand at your desk and do toe raises, proper squats, desk pushups, elbow planks and all manner of adapted yoga poses. Take regular breaks from your computer to stretch, bend and get the juices flowing and the energy unstuck. You're the one responsible for your own workplace well-being, especially now, when so many government health and safety regulations are going the way of the Edsel.
WORK AT A STANDING DESK. There are more than 10,000 studies detailing why it's so much better for your body and your mind to work at a standing desk. Sitting is the new smoking. Do the Google. Check it out, talk to top management, and if they won't buy you one, build or buy one for yourself, and use it every day.
LAUGH MORE. Two of the best antidotes for stress are lightness and laughter. It doesn't solve the problem, but it lightens the load on your body, because you can't laugh and be angry at the same time.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! FIND YOUR DREAM JOB
"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do." -- Rumi
-- Marilynn Preston -- healthy lifestyle expert, well being coach and Emmy-winning producer -- is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, marilynnpreston.com, and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com. She also produces EnExTV, a digital reincarnation of her award-winning TV series about sports, fitness and adventure, for kids of all ages, at youtube.com/EnExTV and facebook.com/EnExTV. To find out more about Preston and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.