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					                         STRATEGIES FOR SELF-CARE
Workplace stress is on the rise and there is no relief in sight. Some common workplace pressures
include increased workloads in the face of workforce downsizing, the rising cost of employee
benefits coupled with the growing need for employers to pass these cost along to employees, and
the stress of employers remaining competitive in the market or employees becoming vulnerable
to layoffs.

Given these any many more workplace pressures, it is critical for employees to pay attention to
self-care. It is also imperative for employers to pay closer attention to the health and welfare of
their workers. Here are some things to pay particular attention to:

Exercise. Contrary to popular workplace practice, this does not include running around in
circles, jumping to conclusions, and beating a good horse to death. It does involve making a
lifelong commitment to taking care of your heart and entire cardiovascular system by exercising
aerobically. Aerobic fitness will allow you to better cope with the physical effects of stress. It
requires working up a healthy sweat for at least twenty minutes three to five times a week.
Benefit - Greater physical stamina.

Regular and sufficient sleep. The latest research reported in the New England Journal of
Medicine indicates that everyone needs both eight hours of sleep and consistent sleep patterns,
even on weekends. Warning - don’t try this while at work! Research on sleep deprivation shows
results of poor decision-making ability, among other things. Benefit - More energy and clear-

Attention to relationships on and off the job. Family, marital, significant other, and work
relationships can be either a source of unhappiness and stress or a great source of support and
personal satisfaction. But healthy relationships don’t happen by chance. We have to invest time
and energy in our relationships. And sufficient time is sometimes hard to find. Benefit -
Freedom from relationship problems.

Attitude towards life. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is attitude. Your basic attitude,
which involves how you think about life, provides the framework for the quality of your life
despite whatever hardships and difficulties you encounter. Shakespeare said “There is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” An important study of Harvard graduates shows
that those who were extremely satisfied with their lives had one-tenth the rate of serious illness
and early death suffered by their thoroughly dissatisfied peers - even when the effects of alcohol,
obesity, tobacco, and genetic predisposition were statistically eliminated! The good news is that
formulating a positive attitude can start with a decision to be happy and to enjoy your
relationships and your job (as in “take this job and love it.”). The next step is to apply this
decision on a daily basis both at home and at work. After several months of practice, this
behavior will become second nature. Benefit - Health, happiness and a sense of peace that
defies understanding.

If you or your work group needs help in developing strategies for self-care, the staff of REACH
EAP & Workplace Solutions stands ready to assist. Call 1-800-950-3434 for confidential,
professional assistance.

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