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NorthStar Performance Partners, LLC | Minneapolis, MN

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Stress is a natural response of the body to challenge, fear, attack, excitement and other external stimuli that gets our heart racing and the blood vessels pumping. However, too much stress, which happens regularly in a stressful workplace, and the body starts to break down. At first it will be minor but over time the damage aggregates and becomes a real, serious health problem. That ultimately takes a person out of commission, and they get replaced. It’s not a good formula for a successful career, no matter how hard a person works.

However, stress can be managed and tempered, like metal that gets hammered, cooled, re-fired, and hammered again. The repetitive process of firing and cooling actually makes the metal stronger, not weaker. And that’s because with challenge and release of energy the molecular structure changes and binds in a stronger form. The human body and mind work the same way. So here are tips to help release the stress since there’s probably little problem in finding it in the workplace:

Join a gym and exercise.
A good one-hour or half-hour workout daily, enough to get your heart rate up to 140 beats per minute, can do wonders for the body and mind. First off, it gives you a break from the challenges of the day mentally. Second, it gets your circulation and body moving, which is a good thing since most office work is sedentary. Third, your body is using its systems efficiently and getting rid of wastes faster, which improves your health overall. All of these benefits help reduce the stress in your system that can build up and becoming harmful.

Find a way to vent and mentally release.
A lot of folks criticize therapy or talk groups as a sign of weakness, but in reality talking out problems really helps. Further, many large organizational leaders use therapy and talk groups regularly to work out issues or just to mentally release. The brain sucks up a lot of stressful concepts that just keep banging around like pinball all day long. Add emotions to that, and it can result in some fairly frustrating feelings and a sense of being under immense pressure. Talking things out regularly with a counselor or an informal group can get all of that sludge out on the table, which often makes people feel a lot better and helps them realign their thoughts on a challenge when hearing someone else’s perspective of the issue.

Get your proper amount of sleep.
The number one reason people get sick is due to a lack of regular sleep. And when people get sick, stress tends to cause more damage and make things worse. The body is like an engine and it can perform physically and mentally to some amazing levels. However, once those big hits happen, a period of rest is critical for repair. It’s not enough to just go get lunch and everything will be all right. A solid night’s sleep every night is one of the critical factors that separates many leaders from those who flub in stressful moments due to exhaustion, or fall over from a stroke or heart attack.

Avoid preventative stress in the workplace.
Problem solvers are the most susceptible to this risk – the need to solve every issue that comes along. There are a lot of issues in the office that are avoidable or someone else can deal with them. Unfortunately, many people stop what they are doing and take on someone else’s burden unnecessarily, adding to their own stress even more. Don’t. Focus your time and energy on your tasks and challenges and learn how to politely refuse taking on more “voluntary” problems.

Keep your home life out of the office.
Another big mistake people make is that they bring their home stress to the office and vice versa. The two worlds need to be kept separate as much as possible. Smart workers learn to turn off the home life unless it’s an emergency. Everything else can wait until the end of the work shift. Unfortunately, email and texting make this much harder, since it’s so easy to reach out to someone any time of the day. Folks need to proactively make their limits clear to family and friends when managing stress that's personal – don’t call unless it’s critical. That allows the mind to focus clearly on work and avoid the much more emotional stuff of home life.


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