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Stress & Burnout

Long workweeks and crazy hours have become as common as voice mail and Palm pilots in today’s workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 1999 that three in ten managers and professionals worked 49 hours or more in a week. If you feel chained to your desk, simple stress-relief strategies can ease day-to-day tension.

Utilize Lunch Breaks for Recreation

Short time-outs during the day, whether they’re brisk walks around the block or trips to the gym, can help reduce stress and improve efficient functioning for the rest of the day. More and more employees are taking advantage of brief breaks. “We have a fitness gym on our campus, so our company encourages people to take the stresses off that way”, the employer said. “But even if you’re at a very small company, without access to a gym, workers can easily get together for a group run or other exercise”. Even a throwing a Nerf ball around or doing five minutes of yoga can let the air out of an over-inflated schedule.

Capitalize on Minor Holidays or Floating Vacation Days

Easily forgotten holidays or a floating vacation day away from work really can make a difference in your stress level – if you know how to make the most of those 24 hours. Sleeping late is great, but the trick is to put the priority on stress reduction, and take purposeful steps in that direction.

Schedule Peace of Mind into that Day

Says Bill van Bark, a psychology Ph.D. and specialist in human systems consulting in Denver. “Get up at a reasonable time. Build in some relaxation time: a walk in the woods or a latte on the corner with a friend. Build in exercise, too; that increases the endorphin level and makes us feel good all over”.

Take Minutes out of Every Hour to Stand Up and Stretch

Small breathers that involve simply getting up and moving around can improve how the body and mind feel, in turn alleviating stress. The body simply wasn’t designed to sit all day long, day after day so non-desk time is crucial. “Lack of movement actually creates fatigue”, says Rogelio Nunez, acupressure practitioner, yoga instructor and principle owner of Hands on Health Wellness. “When you move around, the muscles in the legs help to pump blood back to the heart, which improves your energy and wakes you up”.

Make use of Flex Time and Flexible Scheduling

In today’s office culture, a great majority of companies allow employees to tailor their schedules according to their individual needs, as long as eight hours of work get done. Taking ownership of your time cuts down stress by allowing you to have a more flexible timetable for taking care of life’s obligations. “People in our office start work anytime between 7am and 10am, then stay until anytime from 3 to 6pm”, said Laura Neisius, human resource manager at Cedco Publishing. “This allows the employees who have families to be home when the kids get home. It also means that the people who have heavy commutes don’t have to rush and stress out before they even get to work”. Talk to your boss about the possibilities of a flexible schedule, and come prepared with a list of why it would work.