Stressed at Work? Try Keeping a Journal

In my office, for example, we had a valuable client who made one employee so tense and uncomfortable that she'd tremble at the thought of dealing with him. When she shared this with her colleagues, they suggested that someone else deal with the client, since the dynamic would be easier to manage. Everyone was satisfied.

Another possible solution may be to find a distraction or a way to deliberately pass the time while at work. For example, take a two-minute break every hour to walk outside, to the restroom, to grab a cup of water, or to walk to another floor. The key is to step away from your normal work space and get that frequent change of scenery.

Remember, too, that you don't work for a particular boss or company. In reality, you work for yourself and your loved ones. It's the work you do and the paycheck you receive that likely pays your bills. Don't give the boss or company any more power over you than they really need. When you shift the thinking to recognize that you're working for yourself and the people who mean the most to you, it may help you cope better at work.

(We received an email from one woman who works 10-hour days at a job she says she hates, but quitting without another position lined up isn't an option for her. So every hour, she happily crosses an hour out on a chart as she counts down to the end of the day -- and she says that somehow it makes the pass faster, thereby diminishing her levels of stress.)

Take your lunch break -- don't eat at your desk. Use the time, even if it's only 20 minutes, to leave the building. Applying lavender lotion is thought to have a calming and soothing effect, so keep a small bottle in your desk drawer and apply it to your hands every time you feel yourself tensing up. Listen to an iPod with your favorite music to tune out stressful distractions in the office.

Find a pleasant diversion outside the office. Having even one friend outside of work to share your frustrations with can allow you to vent instead of keeping it pent up. Plan a vacation -- if you can't afford one long break, how about several long weekends? Take up a hobby that you can really sink your teeth into as you engage in something new. Volunteer your time and talent to a worthy cause that takes your mind off of work and allows you to help someone or something that could benefit from your efforts while making you feel good about yourself.

Check the mental health and wellness benefits offered by your employer -- and make use of them. Share your journal entries with a professional, whether it's your doctor, a mental health specialist, or even a qualified job or life coach. Ask for coping mechanisms on how to deal with the triggers that distract you from feeling your best.

Finally, if you've done everything you can do and you're not finding relief, then it may be time to leave. It's a very personal choice of when and how to decide that you can afford to be without the paycheck. Will lack of income take a greater toll on your health -- or will you be much-improved without the job? That's a discussion to have with your family and key advisors.

Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and the CEO of Women For Hire. Talk to her at

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

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