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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 July 2018

Top tips to help you unwind in the UAE – during work and after

The workplace doctor helps a reader who has trouble unwinding after a long day at work.

I have a busy job and often work 10 to 12 hour days. Sometimes I cope fine but sometimes things get on top of me and I feel stressed. What are the best methods, in your opinion, of unwinding after work or even during work? I’m not talking about taking on a new hobby or meditating every night, I just want some simple de-stressing techniques that will help me get through the daily slog in a calm and relaxed manner. SB, Abu Dhabi

Hi SB, it sounds to me you are seeking a toolbox of ideas that you can dip into when you feel that stress mounting. Let’s face it – life is becoming faster, quicker, shorter with greater demands every way we look. Stress stems from many frustrations and I name a few below, firstly for during work:

A sudden refocus

We might need to refocus when a sudden change of direction is unexpectedly thrust upon us, a new priority comes along or another leader shuffles the day. Rightly or wrongly, it happens and to be seen as an active and credible team player you do need to be resilient and respond accordingly.

To do so, let go of the emotional attachment. That’s difficult especially when the ultimate accountability lies with you, yet your control over changes is minimal. However, things do need to be done. Let go, ask the obvious question (“which is to be my priority”) and keep your facts on the ready. When refocusing on a new area, ensure stimuli for the previous priority is filtered away from you, perhaps to an assistant, so as not to distract you from the new challenge, nor feel overloaded.

An overwhelming irritation

Never forget you are only human, and there will be situations that make you irritable or irritated. You have a right to be so, as long as it has no consequences on others. Showing aggression or rejection will only cause more irritation, so how can you nip irritation in the bud and deflect its negative consequence?

Place a rubber band on your wrist and each time you have the inner urge to interrupt or display dissatisfaction, flick yourself with the band out of sight of others, possibly under the table. This certainly helps to wake you up and remind yourself that stress needs to be managed and not allowed to run riot.

Keeping your energy up

Some tasks naturally align while some don’t. We are all different, yet many of us do not have the luxury to pick and choose our tasks. To take the good with the bad, I often set a small reward, so when my energy plummets with a task I don’t enjoy, I keep my eye on the reward and work towards it. Chocolate does it for me, so too, does a walk on the beach – though I’m not sure we all have that freedom.

SB, you also asked about letting things go after work as stress relief. Releasing stress after work is where you have relative freedom. The world is your oyster – choose well. Ensure that whatever you choose finds you saying, “wow, where did that time go?”, showing that a real connection to that activity left no room for re-engaging with work. Or, “wow I feel great”, showing that you know what to keep doing more of. For some that may include reading a book and listening to music, while for others it may be more of a physical release such as exercise or walking in the great outdoors.

The great thing is you are looking to be part of a solution. Let’s not let that stress you – just start small with some of the above actions.

Doctor’s Prescription:

Ponder this quote from Ellen Glasgow three times each day: The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.

Debbie Nicol, the managing director of the Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at debbie.nicol@businessenmotion.com for the Workplace Doctor’s advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague