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Managing Stress


Managing stress is an essential job skill for the successful customer service professional, like me. Typically, customer service representatives experience burnout from two sources: 1) repetitive routine requests, and 2) frustrated customers. The combination can lead to stress, unless customer service representatives manage their responses well.

The following are stress-busting ideas to help keep calm and maintain perspective:

1. Breathe Easily
Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly.

2. Make Time for a Mini Self-Massage
Massage your palm by making a circular motion with the thumb.

3. Say Cheese
Smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the limbic system, a key emotional center in the brain, tilting the neurochemical balance toward calm.

4. Switch to Decaf
Subtract a little regular coffee and add some decaf to your morning cup. You should also consider switching from regular soft drinks to caffeine-free ones or sparkling mineral water.

5. Warm Up
Rub your hands together vigorously until they feel warm. Then cup them over your closed eyes for five seconds while you breathe deeply. The warmth and darkness are comforting.

6. Shake It Up
Stand or sit, stretch your arms out from your sides and shake your hands vigorously for about 10 seconds. Combine this with a little deep breathing. This quick exercise helps loosen the muscles in your neck and upper back.

7. Munch Some Snacks
Foods that are high in carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin, feel-good brain chemicals that help induce calm. Crackers, pretzels, or a bagel should do the trick.

8. Try Tea
Whether you use tea bags or loose tea (one teaspoon of tea per cup of boiling water), steep for about 10 minutes to get the full benefits of the herbs. Try chamomile tea.

9. Take a Walk
Try walking to the bathroom or water cooler, or by pacing back and forth.

10. Stretch
Muscles tighten during the course of the day, and when we feel stressed out, the process accelerates. Stretching loosens muscles and encourages deep breathing.

Are you stressed? Find out by taking the test below.

(This test is not meant to replace a clinical assessment but to help you judge how you are doing. If you score as stressed you may need to seek help.)

Answer these twenty questions: Yes or No.

1. Do you frequently neglect your diet?
2. Do you frequently try to do everything yourself?
3. Do you frequently blow up easily?
4. Do you frequently seek unrealistic goals?
5. Do you frequently fail to see the humor in situations others find funny?
6. Do you frequently get easily irritated?
7. Do you frequently make a “big deal” of everything?
8. Do you frequently complain that you are disorganized?
9. Do you frequently keep everything inside?
10. Do you frequently neglect exercise?
11. Do you frequently have few supportive relationships?
12. Do you frequently get too little rest?
13. Do you frequently get angry when you are kept waiting?
14. Do you frequently ignore stress symptoms?
15. Do you frequently put things off until later?
16. Do you frequently think there is only one right way to do something?
17. Do you frequently fail to build relaxation into every day?
18. Do you frequently spend a lot of time complaining about the past?
19. Do you frequently race through the day?
20. Do you frequently feel unable to cope with all you have to do.

SCORING: 1 point for every YES

Scores of 1-6 Few Hassles
Scores of 7-12 Pretty Good Control
Scores of 13-17 Danger Zone. Watch out!
Scores of 18+ Stressed Out. You may need help.


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