In most service-driven industries, as well as those where teamwork is an important part of the normal job function, dealing with stress is an essential skill. "While it is fairly easy to ensure all the work you are responsible for is done correctly, it is often external factors – unreasonably difficult clients, non-performing colleagues – that cause stress in the workplace. Learning how to avoid stress and mitigate its effects where possible has become a top skill for today's successful professional," explains Charlotte Quenet-Meintjes, head of Workaway International, a successful gap-year company that has helped thousands of South Africans find work in the US.
With over a decade's experience in recruiting and placing young South Africans at top country clubs in the US, Quenet-Meintjes has some invaluable stress-busting tips to share:
Healthy body, healthy mind
One of the most important things you can do to cope with stress is making sure your body and mind are as healthy as possible. By exercising regularly, sticking to a well-balanced, healthy diet and getting 7-9 hours' sleep per night, you're in a better position to absorb stress and able to deal with stressful situations in a much healthier way. Exercise for thirty minutes at least three times per week, and stay away from junk food and sugary drinks – the healthier you are, the better your chances of staying stress-free.
Be aware of triggers
A lot of stress comes from external sources, which are often outside your control. Consistently negative colleagues, unreasonably difficult clients or customers, excessively loud cellphones – all of these can pile on stress and make your job exceedingly difficult. Being aware of these triggers help you reduce the number of stressful situations you may find yourself in daily. Avoid negative colleagues, speak to your manager if a client is unreasonably difficult and ask his or her advice on how to handle the situation, and respectfully ask your colleagues to turn their cell phones down during office hours.
The power of prioritisation
When you prioritise your workload in an inefficient manner, you set yourself up for a lot of stress. Make sure you have a comprehensive to-do list of all your daily actions, and update it regularly. If you're unsure about what to do next, don't be afraid to ask your boss. They should be able to help you prioritise your workload so that no deadlines are missed, giving you the power to do your job effectively and without unneeded stress.
Take a break
In today's intense, high-energy work environments, feeling a little stressed-out is natural and sometimes unavoidable. Make sure you take a break every now and then – make yourself a cup of tea and catch up with the latest news from around the world by reading a newspaper, or go for a short 10-minute walk to the shops. Just use your common sense – don't take breaks when you're on an urgent deadline!