At my full-time job at the zoo, I hear a lot of visitors complain about stress at work. What are they moaning about? Not many of them work every single day of the year like I do. Even so, I stay relaxed. Want to know my secrets for easing stress at work?
My name, Qīngsōng, is the Chinese word for relaxed. True to my name, I focus on staying calm on the job, despite zoo visitors photographing and critiquing my every move. It’s not easy to be constantly on display and charmingly entertaining. Over time, I developed a thick fur over my thin skin. Here are my favorite tips for becoming more relaxed at work.
11 Tips to Ease Stress at Work
- Take Frequent Breaks. Every hour, I lumber a few yards to grab a snack. Unlike the polar bears who opt for marshmallows, I choose a healthier option – bamboo shoots. At lunch time, I fall into a deep slumber after taking some nice, deep breaths. When my trainer scolds about down time, I growl back that frequent breaks improve my productivity because I remain focused. Unable to argue, my trainer retreats.
- Dump the excuses. Workers experience less stress when they spend more time doing their jobs and less time making excuses about not doing their jobs. Tell that to the male lions lazing in the shade. Rest when you need to rest; but work when you need to work – that’s why my trainer allows my frequent breaks.
- Stop Procrastinating. Procrastination causes stress – it’s that simple. When faced with a challenging tree to climb, I immediately spend a few minutes just assessing the branches. If the climb seems impossible, I ponder it for a while, and then study the tree again. I keep coming back to the tree to view it from different angles. Eventually, I feel comfortable enough to start climbing.
- Strive for excellence. Forget about perfection because it’s just an illusion. Of course, don’t tell that to the swans who love to view their reflections in the pond.
- Don’t take it personally. Visitors thrive on criticizing the panda bears for being lazy. Although I pay attention to feedback that helps me improve my work performance, I ignore the rest. Who cares? What do visitors know about pandas anyway?
- Get Along with Your Coworkers. Better yet, get along with your boss. Trust me, there are plenty of narcissists in the zoo business. The best way to get along with them is to stroke their coats and compliment them at every opportunity.
- Focus on what is in your control. Take care of your den; keep your space tidy by not letting tasks build up. Let bosses and coworkers worry about their responsibilities.
- Keep work at work. This is easy; turn off the work cell phone after work hours.
- Avoid work gossip. I pay no mind to the zebras’ silly chatter about the giraffes. The zebras are just jealous of the giraffes’ long necks. You never hear me spread rumors about the trainers bearing down on the elephants since I keep my opinions to myself.
- Refresh your talents. Each week, I devote a couple of hours to perfecting my tree-climbing skills. Sometimes I get a little coaching from one of the chimpanzees in the neighboring exhibit. This way I avoid being a placed on a “PIP” (Performance Improvement Plan), which only serves as a warning that you’re about to be fired.
- Have fun! If you don’t like your job, then find one that you do like. Better yet, find one that you know you will love. That seems obvious even to a bear.
I know, I know, my job is in a zoo, not an office. Trust me, my executives worry about bottom lines too. We animals and humans need to rethink our relationships to work if we want to stay healthy, creative and productive. Okay, I wrote enough. Time for a nap.