By Scott C. Bauman, CAPP
As the year end approaches and the holidays are in full swing, I am reminded of a few important principles that have helped me survive this crazy time of year.
- Don’t forget to celebrate family. Spend quality time with your family. Loving families keep you grounded and provide an important support structure, so don’t forget to celebrate them. Spending quality time with family during the holidays is priceless, so don’t waste precious family time–celebrate it!
- You don’t always need to buy stuff or spend money to be merry. Marketing firms and the media force-feed the hype that you must buy stuff to celebrate the holidays. The constant sales pitches and the forced sense of urgency to buy are powerful and unending. This can cause financial and emotional stress that can ruin the holiday spirit. While giving and receiving stuff is nice, just remember it’s not a prerequisite in celebrating the holidays.
- Don’t let politics divide. Holidays bring extended family together and can open political debate, seemingly more so in recent years. If there are heated political differences within your orbit, don’t waste quality holiday time and energy debating it; life is just too short. Besides, see principle No. 1 for what you really should be doing instead.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. As they say, it’s all small stuff! Keeping a balanced perspective on the values you hold tight all year can greatly reduce holiday stress and anxiety. Focus on the big picture and only on positive things within your control.
- Civility is important. Treat everyone with respect, no matter the emotional conditions or circumstances. During the holidays, it’s infinitely more important to be tolerant of others. Fighting over a parking stall, for example, is just not worth it. Treat others how you want to be treated and you won’t ever go wrong.
If you find yourself in a position where you’re stressed out or feeling overwhelmed about the holidays, just remember to apply the above basic principles to help you survive. They work for me.
Scott C. Bauman, CAPP, is manager of parking and mobility services for the City of Aurora, Colo.
By Cindy Campbell
I fully admit that I’m a strange one. Example: Two of my favorite things in this world are analogies and people watching at airports. During a recent trip through a metropolitan airport, I discovered a place where these two favorites collide.
Welcome to the Recombobulation Area. Wait, what?
Curiosity (combined with a four-hour layover) prompted me to explore what lay beyond the overhead sign. What the heck is a recombobulation area and who’s using it? Off to the left as I entered the room, a young family looked to be reassembling their toddler’s exploded suitcase. Straight ahead, three other tourists appeared to be packing too many souvenirs into various carry-on bags. My take on the situation was that these travelers recognized their own mini-disasters and decided to take the opportunity to fix things before they continued their travels. It’s likely this action helped reduce their individual travel tension and may have made the rest of their travel day less stressful. And this is where my fondness for analogies comes into play.
In life, it’s inevitable that each of us will encounter some amount of chaos. Frequently, our ability to move forward depends on our capability to stop and regroup before we proceed. To recombobulate means to reorient, to put back in to working order, to think clearly again. The concept seems like an obvious choice, yet we often fail to recognize our own counterproductive behaviors when stress-inducing obstacles appear in our path.
Investing our time and energy in panic can be self-defeating. The next time you find yourself knee-deep in chaos, take a deep breath and recombobulate–with or without an official zone.
Cindy Campbell is IPMI’s senior training and development specialist.
By Kathleen Federici, MEd
As I prepare to speak to my son’s fifth grade class on Career/College Day, I find myself reflecting on the state of stress among kids in school and how that translates to the workplace. Our school district superintendent just sent out a workshop for parents on stress in elementary and high school-age children. Harmful stress is everywhere. I started my career as a social worker for school-aged deaf children, then moved into a county supervisor of social services role, and then moved into the educational aspect of my career. Throughout this course, I have seen the nastiness of stress. Stress cultivated by unhealthy work environments does not remain in the workplace. It spills into family and personal spaces, influencing those relationships.
According to Mental Health America more than 50 percent of employees are “checked out” of their jobs. And 70 percent of those are searching for new jobs. An unhappy or unhealthy work environment is bad for a business’s bottom line and bad for employees’ mental and physical health. Those in unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, have more healthcare appointments, and have higher rates of absenteeism. Stress from work can also affect their family life, mental health, and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.
Workplace stress is reported to contribute to higher rates of absenteeism in the workplace. Some key factors contributing to stress are workloads and work expectations, team relationships, and staff management. Employees who perceive a lack of recognition, support, and structure in their workplace will experience higher levels of stress.
Research on workplace wellness confirms that work environments that provide positive recognition and reward and promote professional development generate higher levels of employee engagement, promote quality workplace performance, and increase organizational stability. In healthy workplaces, the presence of supportive and reliable leadership seemed to translate into a workplace culture that fostered supportive relationships among all coworkers, which decreased the amount of workplace stress. Be well, my friends.
Kathleen Federici, MEd, is IPMI’s director of professional development.
By Rita Pagan
There seems to be no defined line between work and home life these days. A typical work day can be as easy as 9-5 or as long and hard as working 12 to 15 hours straight, not even realizing you missed lunch and dinner. Even after hopping off my laptop, I’m still checking email periodically. Work email has almost become an addiction I can’t kick, adding to my stress levels when I’m trying to balance family dinner, exercising, and the dreaded algebra homework my 8th grader comes home with each night.
The so-called perfect work/life balance is dependent upon your personality or personal drivers; some people thrive on working nonstop, some work hard and play hard, others take a more laid-back approach to life in general. Understanding how you work contributes to a successful and happy work/life balance.
Whatever your preferred work ethic, here are some tips for staying less stressed at work and being more awesome instead (because I’m sure you’re already awesome to begin with!):
- Take breaks to maintain manageable stress levels–get up and clear your mind for five minutes.
- Set clear expectations. I know that answering emails until 10 p.m. is just setting an expectation that emails will always be answered that late.
- If you’re an overachiever, consider cutting back to realistic goals so you feel you’ve succeeded. *RAISING HAND* Overachiever here!! This is a hard one for me because I want to do it all, and I want to do it all NOW!
- Have an escape; whether it’s daily exercise or binge-watching that new Netflix show everyone is talking about, you need something to help you unwind and release that pent-up frustration.
What are your stress relievers? What things do you currently do that help separate your work from your home life?
Rita Pagan is the sales and exhibits coordinator at International Parking Institute and a lead planner for IPMI’s own professional development leadership event, coming next fall in Pittsburgh, Pa.