Archive for the ‘Coping with stress’ Category

Problems at work: I hate my boss/Manager

February 21, 2009

People do not work or live in isolation. Even if you are in a dream job, it can be marred by the presence of someone who upsets, frustrates or bullies you. This conflict can dominate your work life and spill over into your private time. The situation can be intensely stressful and can make the working days hell. 

Everyone has ways in which they like to work and there are different styles of management for different types of people. However, some managers use the same approach with everyone, so there will inevitably be conflict. I have been in situations like this before for the following reasons:

·         I feel my work and decisions are undermined by my manager who questions my abilities 

·         I am micro-managed and have to account for all my time, making me feel like I am not trusted

·         I don’t respect my manager or the way they works or treat people

What are your specific problems with your manager?

Don’t be put off though! There are some fantastic managers out there who know how to look after and appreciate their people. They manage to the individual’s style and not with a broad brush approach. If you are a manager yourself, or if you want to be one, consider how you would like to be treated and appreciate individual differences in styles of work.  

How do you want to be treated by your manager? 

Stress Management: Relaxation Ideas

February 1, 2009

Relaxation is important as it helps prevent and control the overwhelming panic that can occur when you are stressed. Relaxation may be a different experience for everyone but common themes are peace, quiet and calm. You need to be able to relax regularly in order to manage your stress. Give your mind and body some time off. It doesn’t have to cost you anything, but you do need to commit some time for relaxation. Here are some suggestions.

·         Sleep more. Your mind is powerful and can work on problems when you are asleep. As well as feeling refreshed when you wake up, you may also have the answers to some of your problems.

·         Turn off the TV and stop the constant noise and stimulation. Be silent or read a book.

·         Listen to some relaxation or meditation CDs. These are often available in your local library if you don’t want to buy any.  

·         Learn a relaxation technique like progressive muscle relaxation or visualisation. Again, there are books and CDs available on these topics.

·         Have a regular massage. Ask the therapist where you hold your stress in your body. This can help you identify which physical areas to focus on relaxing.

·         Take a yoga class. Breathe and stretch more.

·         Get a hammock and spend some quality time in it. There is something inherently relaxing about being in a hammock. You can get a stand instead of using hooks so you can put it anywhere.

·         See a professional hypnotist for relaxation and de-stressing.

·         Cry. Big sobbing bursts of crying can release tension and you will feel better when you are all cried out. This will only be useful if you find it socially acceptable but it does work!

·         Laugh a lot. Get some funny movies. Play with your children. Go to a fun park and go on the rides. Be silly. Check out a laughter club at

·         Get out into nature and walk. Go and look at something that is not the city.


“I find myself being mentored by the land once again. I too can bring my breath down to dwell in a deeper place where my blood soul restores to my body what society has drained and dredged away.”

Terry Tempest-Williams


Stress Management: Develop your self-efficacy in work situations

January 26, 2009

Self-efficacy is your belief in your own capability to do something. It may be a proven capability based on something you have achieved or it may be the belief that you can do a new thing given the opportunity. If you believe you can do something, you will feel more in control and therefore less stressed.

If you try something new and it works, you will feel you have achieved. You will have increased your self-efficacy. If it doesn’t work, then you can learn from it and the lesson will also improve your self-efficacy.

 It is about how you perceive the situation.

For example, I have started three businesses. Each folded within a year after much hard work and money spent. As much as the experience was painful, I learnt a great deal each time that has enabled me to go on to later success. I perceived that the failures increased my abilities to eventually run a successful business so my self-efficacy improved even though some would say that I “failed”.


“If you want to succeed,

double your failure rate.”

Thomas Watson, founder of IBM.


Your comfort zone is where you are happy doing your work or using your abilities. Part of developing self-efficacy is to stretch these comfort zones and increase skill level so you can function without being stressed in the outer limits.

If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never know what you are capable of.

Here are some ways to improve your self-efficacy in work situations.  


  •          Identify what you have achieved – at work or in other areas of your life. Really look at what you have done and acknowledge that you have skills, and that you are valuable.
  •          Identify where your comfort zone is. Where are the boundaries of your skills? Where do you lose your self confidence? For example, you may be happy speaking in front of colleagues at a staff meeting, but not at a conference of 500 people.
  •          Find ways to apply the skills you have to the boundaries of your comfort zone in order to extend it out further.
  •          List ways you could improve in specific areas by developing new skills.
  •          Aim to put yourself in these situations in manageable ways in order to increase your comfort zone without being too stressed.
  •          Once you have tackled a new situation, add it to the list of what you have achieved and learned. Celebrate another step forward!

Stress Management for Workplace Stress – Part 1

January 20, 2009

Take control of your stress – Part 1. 

1. Assess why you are stressed

What are the situations in which you get stressed? Who makes you feel stressed? Here are some examples of workplace stress to help you identify your stressors.  

  •          Trying to do a job that doesn’t match your values or skills
  •          Conflict with other people
  •          Working long hours which leaves you so tired you can’t function at home or do things you enjoy
  •          Not enough time to do a quality job and then being criticised for under-performing
  •          Lack of support from other team members


There are many more things in the workplace that are stressful. Write down the things that particularly affect you. 


2. Use time management techniques


You might feel stressed because you do not have the time to do everything that you need or want to do. The key is to actively manage the situation and bring it under your control. Try the following time management techniques.

  •          Write down everything you have to achieve and by when. Even the small things add up.
  •          Estimate how long these things will take and rate them in terms of urgency and importance (although this list will keep changing, sometimes it is necessary to write it all down so you can get some perspective).
  •          Review your work related items with your manager so they are aware of the competing demands on your time and ask for more help if necessary. You may find that they are unaware of your workload and there may be others who can help you with it. Managers prefer to know in advance if deadlines will be missed.
  •          Ask people to book your time rather than turning up at your desk with impromptu requests.
  •          Start saying ‘No’ when people ask you to do things outside the boundary of your prescribed job. This may be very difficult for some people who want to be helpful all the time, but it is essential if you are to be less stressed.
  •          Some workplaces have “no meeting days” or only have meetings in the mornings so people also have time to achieve their actions by the next meeting. You could suggest this for your workplace or your team.  
  •          Only check your email twice a day, or turn off your email program when you are doing a piece of work. This prevents regular interruptions from incoming mail.

In what ways you could implement time management techniques to make your work life less stressful?

3. Take control

If you blame your stress on aspects of your life which are not under your influence, you will not be able to reduce or control your stress.


Take ownership of what is stressing you and be in control of it.


If you acknowledge that you have control over what stresses you, you can deal with it by actively solving the problem. If you believe it is someone else’s fault or responsibility, then nothing will change.

Own it, change it.



“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Bob Marley, Redemption Song


Lost your job? What you need to do now

January 18, 2009

Unemployment has been rising steadily for the last 6 months as the global financial crisis deepens. Many white-collar professionals have been laid off including management, sales staff and office workers. 

So what can you do if you have lost your job? 

  • Use all the information and help that your company will give you to improve your chances of re-employment. Take any courses you can that they will pay for and use the work time you have left to its best advantage. 
  • Update your resume – you may need to include more detail about aspects of other jobs you have had to broaden your appeal in the market
  • Cut back on expenses and look at your budget
  • Use the time to think about what you really want to do for a job. Maybe this is your chance to move into something new?  
  • Try to stay positive – there are jobs and it is not personal. Your skills can be used elsewhere, you just might have to be flexible in what you do and for how long. 
  • Actively search for work opportunitiesget a profile on LinkedIn or other social networks and see what is out there. Many jobs are not advertised, but if you know someone who can submit your resume, you might just find something. 
  • Remember temp agencies if you have office skills. Many companies may lay off staff and then find themselves without key people. They will use temp agencies to fill the gap instead of employing staff. You may be in a different place every week, but many people also find fulltime work after being placed with a company. 
  • Consider being a contractor or self-employed. You can offer a daily rate making it easier for companies to afford you short term. 

Global Layoffs: Safest and riskiest jobs in 2009

January 18, 2009

My contract has been brought to an early halt by the global economy altering my company’s share price. So I am joining the list of those people looking for work.

Is your job safe? A new report shows what the safest and riskiest jobs are in 2009. 

Safest jobs include: Biotechnology, Online Information Services, Online shopping and surprisingly, waste disposal!

Risky jobs include: Car retailing, real estate, investment banking and bricklaying

Stress in the workplace

January 15, 2009

Stress can actually be positive if the work is challenging as it brings an edge from the adrenalin of achievement. Unfortunately, most people will suffer negative stress at work.

Negative stress is now a constant in the working life and is not considered unusual. But how do people get the right balance? They are either too stressed and spend life rushing from one thing to the next, or they are not challenged enough and are stressed with boredom, repetition and frustration!

Negative stress happens when the job you do is mismatched with what you really want, when you work long hours at something you don’t enjoy, and when you don’t have time to relax and recover. Too much of this can damage your health and your relationships. Different people have different responses to levels of stress, but it becomes overwhelming when the ability to cope is outweighed by the number of stressors in your life.

Look at these statistics on negative stress. It is not to be taken lightly!

  •          “People’s jobs are the single biggest cause of stress with over a third (36%) of Britons citing it as one of their biggest stressors. 45% of those who have felt stressed have been depressed as a consequence”. (Source: Hazards Magazine)
  •          “26% of adult Americans reported being on the verge of a serious nervous breakdown”. (Source: American Psychologist)
  •          “Workplace stresses can double the rate of death from heart disease. High demands, low control, low job security and few career opportunities contributed to the overall stress measured in the study”. (Source: Centre for the Advancement of Health)
  •          “Work-related stress (including job insecurity) and fatigue may increase the risk of cold, flu and stomach inflammation. In one study, employees in demanding jobs developed colds 20 % more often than those in less demanding positions”. (Source: Centre for the Advancement of Health)
  •          “Seven of the top-selling drugs worldwide are either antidepressants or anti-ulcer medications, and stress is cited as a prime factor in the need for both”. (Source: Behavioral Healthcare)
  •          “Studies show that the greatest number of heart attacks in North America and Western Europe occur between 8am and 9am on a Monday morning”. (Source: Women’s Heart Foundation)

  •          “Japan has its own word for death from overwork – karoshi. The major medical causes are heart attack and stroke due to stress. Factors that indicate karoshi are: excessive working hours in a short period, long term excessive work burdens, irregular work hours, infrequent breaks, frequent business trips, shift work, late night work and work-related stress. It is now indicated that Western nations are suffering the same “disease””. (Source:


Stress is now so commonplace in the workplace that a growing industry exists just to manage it. Psychologists investigate it and employers’ bring in massage therapists and send people on “mental health” days because of the rising cost of workplace stress. Office workers in particular don’t do back-breaking physical work anymore, but many are exhausted by the sheer pace of modern work, the pressure to succeed or progress – or the frustration that comes with the inability to do exactly that.

Working with other people can also generate negative stress. Many people say that the friends they make at work are the reason to go in, but there are also people who can make it more stressful. It could be a manager with poor people skills who treats you badly or bullies people, or a co-worker who makes life difficult for everyone. Negative stress from people dynamics can impair thinking, so rapid and poor decisions can be made in error. Negative stress can be passed on in the haste to get out of the situation. Social stress can cause people to protect themselves by being hostile and over sensitive.

What triggers your stress? If you know you get stressed but are not aware of what triggers it, try keeping a weekly log. Notice what triggers you and then use strategies to avoid or mitigate the situation.

Holidays: New study shows Australians are not taking them

January 10, 2009

A new study by Tourism Australia has shown that people are not taking their annual leave, but working instead.Close to 60% of full-time workers did not use their 4 weeks holiday, citing “workplace issues” and “personal issues” as reasons why. 

Stockpiling annual leave has an effect on people’s performance and workplace happiness as well as the company bottom line. The study is aimed at turning this missing leave into Australian holidays to boost the tourism industry, which should have a positive effect for everyone. 

“In the interests of workplace productivity as well as individuals’ mental refreshment and general health, it is important that annual leave be taken seriously by business.  During this time of skill shortages, employers who want to retain their talented workers increasingly need to be seen as employers of choice.

 “Employers who impose a culture of ‘work first at all costs’ are not investing in their people and will lose them to competitors who have a culture of looking after their human capital,” Jo Mithen, AHRI executive director said in the report.

You are not the only one unhappy at work…but you are the only one who can change it

January 10, 2009

“This is exactly what is wrong with my life. 

Travelling home in the dark after a long day at work, I feel I haven’t achieved much, but no-one notices anyway. I have a stress headache and my neck hurts from my bad desk posture. I am tired even though I have done nothing physically active all day. I don’t have the energy to go to the gym now – I just want to go home, have dinner and watch TV. Looking around, I know I am not the only one on this train to feel like this.”

Terri, on the commuter train home

Can you identify with this?

Do you feel as if you have been doing something you don’t like for far too long?

Don’t worry. If you feel like this right now, you are not alone.

A multitude of surveys and figures indicate how many people don’t enjoy their jobs. Here are just some of the studies:

  •          “Approximately 60% of today’s workers and 50% of middle managers are unhappy in their current jobs.” (Source: Accenture)
  •          “Americans hate their jobs more than ever before in the past 20 years, with fewer than half saying they are satisfied. The trend is strongest among workers under the age of 25, with less than 39 % satisfied with their jobs. Overall, dissatisfaction has spread among all workers, regardless of age, income or residence.” (Source: Live Science)
  •          “Only 29% of Australians polled said they were happy in their jobs. The number one cause of unhappiness is stress”. (Source:
  •          “A quarter of working Brits, more than 7 million people, are disillusioned with their jobs. One in three Londoners are trapped in jobs they hate”. (Source:
  •          “Some surveys have found that 87 % of Americans don’t like their jobs. About a million people a day phone in sick. It costs the nation an estimated $150 billion per year in treatment for stress-related problems, absenteeism, reduced productivity and employee turnover”. (Source: Forbes)

With figures like these, each of us has to rethink the way we work!

It is not sustainable for people or for businesses.

There is a problem, and you can only solve it for yourself.  

There are many reasons why people don’t enjoy their jobs – which apply to you?

January 5, 2009

I’m Bored

My work is boring, repetitive and doesn’t challenge or interest me. I count the minutes I have to be there and I am desperate to leave at the end of the day.

I’m Stressed
My job is too stressful. I have too much work/too little time/too much travel/ not enough holiday/not enough time for relationships/family and no time for the rest of my life. I am overworked, exhausted and heading for burnout or a breakdown.

I’m Under-rewarded
I am not paid enough, not rewarded enough for my work, and not recognised for the job that I do.

I’m Trapped

I feel trapped in this job. I need the money to pay the bills. I am not qualified for anything else, or I won’t get paid so much if I go elsewhere. People depend on me so I have to keep this job.

Other People
Other people make my job a nightmare. I hate my boss/manager. Other work colleagues upset/annoy me. I am treated badly/bullied/harassed at work. I feel undermined, micromanaged or not trusted to do what I am employed to do.

I’m Mismatched

There is a mismatch between what I want to do and what I am actually doing. I don’t know exactly what I want, but I know it’s not this. There’s no meaning in my job. I feel the work itself is pointless.

Work has become something that has to be done, rather than something people look forward to. This can leave people feeling trapped in jobs they don’t enjoy. Everyone wants to work at something that is meaningful, that they enjoy, that utilises their skills and is appropriately rewarding. In general, people don’t want to stop working completely, but they want to stop working at their particular job. They may not know what to do about it or how to change the situation. The big question they ask is: “How do I find the right job for me?”  

Many people focus on being happy ‘sometime in the future’ when they earn more money, or when they retire. But what is the point of waiting that long and living life being miserable now?