In today’s Times, there is an article which shows the shocking statistics for soaring levels of stress and suicide on workers in Japan who follow an excessive work culture.

A new law will make companies ensure that their staff take at least five days off a year after a survey showed that most holidays were not taken.

The average Japanese worker is entitled to 18.5 paid days off, but in 2013 took only nine. More than 16 per cent of employees took no holidays. Only South Koreans take fewer days off. In 2012, 338 Japanese workers died of brain or heart conditions caused by overwork, an increase for the second consecutive year. The number of workers who suffered from mental illness increased by 50 per cent to 475, and of these 93 people killed themselves or attempted to commit suicide.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/asia/article4343294.ece

Tension and anxiety are all common problems in society today, and many people will suffer from symptoms of stress at some point in their lives. As the effects of stress can be, at the very least, unpleasant it is useful to know how to manage and reduce stress in our lives.

There are numerous steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of being affected by stress and many of them are a matter of simple common sense.

Here are 5 Top Tips to help you minimise and hopefully avoid stress:-

1. Talk it over

Try not to cope with problems alone. Having someone with whom you can share your problems can help to ‘offload’ the stress.

You may find it useful to talk to a friend or work colleague, or talk to your line manager or employer if you are experiencing stress in the workplace.

Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or by releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it. Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague or even a trained professional can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.

One problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can.

Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution. Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how it will be done, when it will be done, who is involved and where it will take place. At times, we all feel overburdened by our ‘To Do’ list and this is a common form of stress.

Accept that you cannot to everything at once and start to prioritise and diarise your tasks.

Make a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in terms of genuine priority.

Note what tasks you need to do personally and what can be delegate to other people.

Record which tasks need to be cone immediately, in the next week, month, or when time allows.

By editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and daunting task list, you can break it down into a series of smaller, manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame, maybe with some tasks removed from the list entirely, thanks to your delegation.

Don’t fill your schedule completely – allow 10% buffer time to deal with any unexpected emergency tasks and to include time for your own relaxation and thinking time.

2. Keep a Stress Diary

Keeping a Stress Diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the particular situations which cause you to feel stressed.

Note down the date, time and place pf each stressful episode and note what you were doing, who you were with and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (use a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations.

This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.

3. Take Control

Stress can be triggered by a problem that may on the surface seem impossible to solve. Learning how to find solutions to your problems will help you feel more in control and thereby lower your feelings of stress.

One problem solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution.

Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how it will be done, when it will be done, who is involved and where it will take place.

4. Manage your time

At times, we all feel overburdened by our ‘To Do’ list and this is a common form of stress.

Accept that you cannot to everything at once and start to prioritise and diarise your tasks. Make a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in terms of genuine priority. Note what tasks you need to do personally and what can be delegate to other people.

Record which tasks need to be cone immediately, in the next week, month, or when time allows. By editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and daunting task list, you can break it down into a series of smaller, manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame, maybe with some tasks removed from the list entirely, thanks to your delegation.

Don’t fill your schedule completely – allow 10% buffer time to deal with any unexpected emergency tasks and to include time for your own relaxation and thinking time.

5. Learn to say ‘no’

A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it.

And yet despite this, many people will still agree to take on additional responsibility. Learning to say ‘no’ to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress and may also help to enhance your self-confidence.

To learn to say ‘no’ you need to understand why you find it difficult. Many people find it hard because they want to help and are trying to be nice and to be liked.

For others, it’s a fear of conflict, rejection or of missed opportunities. Remember that these barriers to saying ‘no’ are all self-created.

You might feel reluctant to respond to a request with a straight ‘no’ at least at first. Instead, thing if some pre-prepared phrases such as:

“I’d love to do this, but…”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities right now.”

“Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. Why don’t you ask me again at …?”

Unfortunately, many people don’t act positively to reduce the stress in their lives until physical symptoms force them to consider how their lifestyle is affecting their well-being.

Don’t leave stress unchecked or wait until it makes you ill. Learn to recognise when you are stressed and take steps to minimise or avoid stress.

Want to read the rest of the Top Tips for Reducing Stress Levels?

Visit the new Creativedge free mobile App providing immediate, expert management and personal development tips and advice on a range of other management and training issues:-

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/top-10-tips/id796349890?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.elixsoft.creativedge

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