These days, everyone seems to be talking about stress at work. That's not surprising: new technologies are increasing the pace of change, and in many professions, layoffs have brought extra work to the employees who have kept their jobs. Still, stress is not always a negative thing, and there are methods of dealing with it that anyone can learn.
Experts say that one of the best ways to fight stress is simply to move around. This is one area in which European workers have important advantages. Unlike cities in North America, European communities are built for pedestrians. So if you want to take a short break from work, you will probably have no trouble finding a place to walk.
"There is a direct relation between the built environment and people's lifestyles," says Rick Bell of the American Institute of Architects. Bell and other American architects are supporters of the active-design movement, which involves creating buildings that encourage healthy habits. "It makes [workers] feel valued and a lot of this stuff doesn't really cost anything because it's where you locate things," Joan Blumenfeld, of the international architectural firm Perkins+Will, told USA Today. Principles behind active design include building stairs rather than elevators, making use of natural light, moving printers from individual desks and placing them in central locations so that people have to get up from their desks, and building outdoor spaces such as roof gardens that encourage workers to leave their desks and get a bit of fresh air and exercise.
While you're outside, why not have lunch? A recent study showed that only 21 percent of Americans regularly leave their desks to have lunch. Instead, most hurriedly eat " al desko" while continuing to stare at their computer screens. "Far fewer employees are feeling comfortable enough with their workloads to take time away," says Michael Haid, senior vice president of Right Management, the international recruiting firm that did the study. "One has to ask if such pressure, without any letup, actually benefits the individual or the organization," Haid told CNN Money. "We are definitely not talking about a return to the days of the three-martini lunch, but have we gone too far in the other direction?"
Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, a New York City consultancy, says there is "a clear link between exhausted employees and poor performance." Schwartz adds: "By pushing people too hard, you actually make them less productive. Letting employees recharge at midday is a tremendous competitive advantage. Look at Google. Everyone goes to lunch there. The food is great, and it's free. And people are having terrific conversations in the dining room. Facebook and Twitter now offer the same thing, that chance to connect with colleagues and share ideas over a relaxing meal."
Even if your company doesn't provide you with a free lunch, you can make your working day more relaxed by being well organized, says Dr. Shelley Narula. This helps you "avoid delays and mistakes, which often bring additional stress," Narula writes on SteadyHealth.com. "Doing one thing at a time and finishing it before taking up another...is an equally good antidote against work-related stress." She advises the low-tech method of listing your tasks in an appointment book. "Putting these tasks on paper also eliminates the worry that often comes with trying to remember all these details. And it also makes you feel a great sense of accomplishment checking off a finished task."
al desko - am Schreibtisch
appointment book - Terminkalender US
at a time: do one thing - jeweils nur eine Sache tun
CEO (chief executive officer) - Hauptgeschäftsführer(in)
check sth. off - etw. abhaken
competitive advantage - Wettbewerbsvorteil
connect with sb. - Kontakt herstellen
consultancy - Beratungsfirma
elevator - US Aufzug
environment - Umgebung
exercise - Bewegung
layoff - Entlassung
link - Zusammenhang
locate sth. - etw. platzieren
pace - Tempo
pedestrian - Fußgänger(in)
performance- Leistung, Erfolg
senior vice-president - Direktor(in)
sense of accomplishment - schönes Gefühl, etw. erfolgreich erledigt zu haben
stuff - Sachen, Dinge
take sth. up - mit etw. beginnen
terrific - toll
tremendous - enorm
workload - Arbeitsbelastung