Managing Your Stress at Work

According to a 2008, 12 year study of 10,308 London-based civil servants, chronic work stress was found to increase the risk of Coronary Heat Disease by 68% and is higher in employees under 50 years of age. This study also found that work stress was also associated with further poor health behaviours that could compound the risk. Coronary Heart Disease is one of many medical symptoms that is compounded by stress.

During over 13 years of nursing I saw many things. During this time I became increasingly interested in the psychological aspects of illness. For the last 6 years of my nursing life I would always ask my patients the same question, “Have you been experiencing more stress than usual lately?”

The answer was always, “yes.”

There were two main areas in the lives of my patients that continually contributed to patients presenting with strokes and heart attacks; relationship problems and work-related stress. Both of these were big indicators of people who are at risk of more serious illnesses developing.

Let us look at why.

Stress causes our body to go into fight or flight mode. Blood to our non-essential organs is diverted to your muscles and brain, which is why stress can cause indigestion and contribute to weight gain. Your body is also flooded with adrenaline, which is why sleeplessness is common in those with higher than average stress levels. You are also filled with energy, causing your blood pressure to rise and your heart to beat faster, which is why hypertension is common in those who have stressful lives.

This response literally prepares you to either run or fight for your life.

Because office-based jobs that are stressful involve you having to deal with these surges of energy, without giving you a chance to offload the symptoms, it can literally leave you wanting to put your foot or fist through a computer screen. This is because you are prepared to fight for your life.

What can cause this?

The danger of stress is that your brain has not learned to distinguish between a real and perceived threat. Consequently, a dismissive or critical comment from your boss or a work colleague can put you into fight or flight. Clearly, your life is not in immediate danger but your body is preparing you as though it is. Just by thinking about the same criticism, slight on your character or threat can literally have you preparing to fight for your life, repeatedly several times a day.

With the current recession causing pay cuts and redundancies, it is likely that many employees are living on a knife-edge as they fear for not being able to work, pay bills or even feed their families. Constant worry about such issues has the same affect on your body as living in the jungle and seeing lions arriving to feast on your family.

What can you do to reduce your stress at work?

When you find yourself experiencing symptoms of fight or flight then it’s time to focus on your breathing. Deeper breathing is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reverse your body’s stress response. Also, tell yourself “I am safe.”

This may sound ridiculous but your body is preparing you to fend for your life. By repeating the message that you are safe and making a conscious effort to deepen your breathing, you are putting yourself on the fast-track to a more relaxed day at work.

Something to think about.

Ultimately, unmanaged stress will kill you early and then you will not be able to earn money, spend time with your family or enjoy the wonders that life can bring. If you are spending your time focusing on stressful things and the above technique does not appear to be helping then get help. Most people who get ill and die early are those who did not ask for help until it was too late. There are plenty of free tips, resources and easy to use alternatives available to you but you will need to invest a little time in learning them.

You can find such tools at my website

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Emotional Intelligence at the Work Place

Poor emotional intelligence at work can lead to increased stress and sickness.

According to Mind, British businesses lose an estimated £26 billion each year in sickness, absence and lost productivity. With greater awareness and mental health support they said that businesses could save one-third on these costs – ‘a mammoth £8 billion a year.’ Increasing Emotional Intelligence at work will help to do this.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

There are many different interpretations of what exactly emotional intelligence is. I will only offer you my interpretation – “The ability to go swiftly to the place that feels the best in any situation.”

How does this happen in the work place?

With the added pressure of a recession, lay-offs and cut-backs in the current work climate, it is more essential than ever before to gain a higher degree of emotional intelligence. When bosses or colleagues undermine, criticise or threaten you and you do not respond in a way that feels good then this is not emotionally intelligent.

Often at work employees have a problem with someone else and tell everybody except the person that it concerns or those who could do something about it. This divisive practice can cause stress, frustration and can translate into illness, low productivity and a factitious work force. Nobody wins when this status quo remains.

Over time this can cause hypertension as the stress response is triggered in the employees experiencing this. The result is often sickness or absenteeism. Worse still for companies is that employees experiencing these symptoms can be like a cancer for a business, spreading slowly through the system, via the channel of complaints to other employees.

Honesty is the best policy.

If you have an issue with anyone at work it is your duty as an employee to address the source. Do this by stating calmly and assertively how you feel, what caused it and how things could improve in the future. This at least gives the person who is perceived to be at fault a chance to address it and ameliorate the situation. They may even surprise you and were probably not aware how their behaviour has affected you.

If they are not so accommodating then you have every right to take it to their boss, or directly to the CEO of the company. If your issue is with the CEO and they are unreasonable then a new job may well be the answer – before your health suffers the inevitable demise that occurs.

If you are the CEO or department head then it is your duty to encourage an environment of honesty and constant employee feedback. By giving your staff freedom to express them selves honestly, you will be establishing the foundation for more emotionally intelligent employees.

A key factor in communication.

Often when faced with a loud and overbearing employee or boss it is tempting to reply in a softer, more dulcet tone. Just remember that when we are like each other we like each other. Often by matching the tonality of the person that we are communicating with, we increase rapport. Since our tonality represents far more than our language in effective communication, it is a useful tool to match the tone of the person who we are with.

Get it off your chest.

If you have an issue with someone at work then tell them. If you don’t, you may get ill and that would not be emotionally intelligent.

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How to Manage Annoying Colleagues

Mariam Noronha, an experienced Management Educator, has some helpful advice on how to manage annoying colleagues. Read her top tips below which will help those seeking better working relationships with their co-workers.

One of the many reasons why we get stressed out at work and sometimes even resist going to work is because we encounter some annoying colleagues. Such people trigger off negative emotions and make us feel restless and compelled to react.

Working around people who annoy and irritate you can only sap your energy often leaving you seething and upset. While we cannot eliminate such people from our fold, we can try and manage them. Here are 6 tips to help you manage annoying colleagues…

Change Your Focus

Whenever something upsets you, try and shift your focus by thinking about something positive. If you cannot entirely avoid an annoying person at work, try not to focus on them. Instead think of someone you like and admire. Just thinking about a friend or a happy incident might help you shift your focus and lift your mood.

Remember, it takes all sorts to make this world and it is when we come across irritants that we realize the value of our well wishers and loved ones.

Try Talking it Out

Sometimes the other person is not going all out to irritate you or may not even realize the effect they are having on you. Try talking about their annoying habits or traits to them in private and when they are in an open frame of mind. Many a time approaching people when they are in an amiable mood to discuss irritants arising out of their actions is the right thing to do.

However, such a move is not without the dangers of it backfiring or turning that person off even more. So apply this method only if you are willing to take that risk.

Get Them on Your Side

One of the best ways to deal with people who annoy you is to try and get them on your side. This is easier said than done though but it is possible if you try and figure out what the other person is really looking for. If you can demonstrate that you will be able to help them get what they want or how you can help them achieve their goals they might just be willing to get on your side instead of working against you.

Acceptance is the Key

A friend of mine recently read a book which classified people in to personality types based on natural elements. She shared a number of interesting facts and valuable insights but the best thing she said was, “Each one of us does what we do because it comes to us naturally. Beating yourself up about why so and so did this or that is only detrimental to your wellbeing. Accept people as they are and look at the bigger picture.”

This is what I would say might help us deal with annoying colleagues, acceptance of the fact that this person is only doing what he or she does anyways. Why am I letting it ruin my day or peace of mind?

Don’t Allow Control

The moment we let other people determine how we feel it is all about handing over control of our minds to someone else. You won’t hand over your car keys to someone who is a bad driver and let them damage your car, will you?

Then don’t allow an annoying colleague or a bully at work to control how you think, feel and respond to a situation. Start with yourself, feel good about yourself and what you can do, the rest will fall in to place slowly but surely.

Don’t get Angry, Get Tough

Annoying colleagues trigger off a number of negative emotions, anger being a predominant one. Anger burns you and does more damage to you than anyone else could do to you. Instead of getting angry get tough; decide that you will not let anyone else’s behaviour adversely affect you.

Adopt a “no nonsense” approach so other people get the message about what is acceptable and what is isn’t. A steely resolve that you will get through the day without letting other people control your temper is what you need.

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Adopting ERP To Boost Your Workforce

In the many discussions that have taken place over the last few years concerning Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), the focus has largely been on the economic and business benefits to a company that implements an ERP system.  However, the benefits of ERP can go beyond that, and the workforce in a company can also benefit in a number of ways from the introduction of ERP.


An outline of ERP

ERP in its most basic form is a system that keeps data accessible and updated in a single centralised manner.  Whereas an inefficient business set-up may involve keeping different sorts of data on different hard drives across several departments; the efficiency of ERP lies in putting all the data in one place so that each department can access and update it in real time.  This reduces the redundancy of data and computing systems, and reduces the risks associated with inaccurate or divergent information.

The advantages of ERP in the workplace

One big advantage of ERP as a concept for a whole business is that it removes the need to spend time and money looking after computer systems, when that effort could instead be focused on growing the business and maintaining customer satisfaction.  For individual members of the workforce, too, ERP can help to boost efficiency and morale, by removing the frustrations that can come from a fragmented or unreliable data management platform.  With the right choice of system by the enterprise, the workforce can receive the boost of easy-to-use and streamlined data processing that can help to improve motivation in the essential elements of their daily work.

Moving to Cloud ERP

In terms of functional simplicity, one of the major advances of recent years has been the introduction of Cloud ERP as a tool for storing and maintaining data.  This innovation has enabled businesses to gain even further efficiencies by maintaining and running software from the cloud.  In this scenario, the benefits of the system go further than the basic data retrieval and update functions, and integrate the sort of software management that has previously been considered by many to be the sole province of the company’s IT department. This shift means that the boost to employees, and the savings on the bottom line, can be enhanced through seamless management of software support and applications, without the inconvenience of large amounts of additional hardware in the office environment.

Long-term benefits of ERP for businesses and the workforce

Over the long term, businesses and their workforces have the potential to gain considerable benefits from the efficiencies produced by Cloud ERP.  As systems develop to enable employees to influence the way in which data is handled, the workforce can become more efficient in tasks and more involved in the company’s processes.  For a business, more focused use of time by the workforce and fewer costs in the maintenance of computer hardware can combine to make a powerful difference to the profitability of the enterprise.  In addition, time that is not spent on struggling with an IT system can be spent on ensuring future business success.


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Dating in the Workplace – Recipe for Disaster?

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about workplace dating. Follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s website

Dating at work is definitely becoming more commonplace but just because everyone else is doing it, does that mean you should too? If that was the case then I’d dye my hair the new trendy shade of orange in the style of Pixie Geldof and watch as my clients flocked anywhere but my therapy couch!

Dating is a form of interaction - in the olden days more a courtship. With the hours of workers increasing and the recession playing its part in the reduction in socialising, is it any wonder we are looking to find love over the photocopier?

The muddy waters tend to appear if you work in very close proximity or the hierarchy of either of your positions has an effect on your working life.

I am not saying you cannot meet the perfect person for you at work, but just before you jump in with both feet, perhaps ask yourself:

1. Is this just a natural progression as we spend so much time together and we would like to get to know each other on a romantic level?

2. Would I still have chosen to date my current object of affection if I managed my time better, accepted a few more invitations out with my friends and opened myself up to meeting new people?

If your answer to the first question was yes, perhaps take the leap but don’t forget your safety net. If you answered yes to the second, run while you still can – you deserve better.