A Panda Bear’s Tips for Easing Stress at Work

While working my shifts at the city zoo, I hear many visitors complain about stress at work. What are they moaning about? Not many of them work nearly 365 days a year as I do. Even so, I stay relaxed.

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 charmingly entertaining while constantly on display. Over the years, I developed a thick fur over my thin skin, so here are my tips to relax more at work.

13 Tips for Easing 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 lunchtime, I fall into a deep slumber after taking some slow, deep breaths. When my trainer scolds me about downtime, I growl back that my frequent breaks enhance 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 facing a challenging tree to climb, I immediately spend a few minutes assessing the branches. If the climb seems impossible, I ponder it for a while and then study the tree again on another day. 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.

That goes for your boss too. Trust me. There are plenty of narcissists in the zoo business, and 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. 

Simple! Just 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.

Value Differences.

Every day I remind myself that diversity keeps our zoo interesting. That’s the reason we have so many visitors who visit year after year.

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 burnout, or worse, being placed on a “PIP” (Performance Improvement Plan), which often serves as a warning that you’re about to be fired.

Respect Everyone’s Safety.

Please follow the CDC guidelines to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Wear a mask and practice social distancing when gathering in front of an exhibit.

Have fun! 

If you don’t like your job, then find one you do like. Better yet, find one that you will love. That seems obvious even to a bear. Check out these Steps to Choosing a Career.

I know, I know, my job is in a zoo, not a large corporation, but trust me, my executives worry about bottom lines too. We animals and humans need to rethink our relationships to work to stay healthy, creative, and productive.

Okay, I wrote enough—time for a nap.

Blog post image is under license from Shutterstock.com.

Author: Jessica Loftus, a seasoned clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor, provides counseling at her practice in Palos Heights. Currently, she is running a waiting list and seeing clients only via telehealth. Email her at jesiphd@gmail.com if you have questions.

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