Unit 3.4: Time, Stress, and Self Care


Steven R. Van Hook, PhD

Taking Care of Yourself

For the most part, you can be sure your customer service team workers are going to be concerned with how well you perform the duties you have been assigned. Apart from professional collegiality, your personal well-being is going to be outside their realm of responsibility—especially since they will be rightfully concerned with their own well-being. Your supervisor and team mates may help you to the extent that ensures you perform your job well; but much of the obligation for your own self-care and personal development is going to fall on you.

The act of self-care does not mean spoiling and pampering yourself, indulging yourself in decadent luxuries. In fact, to ensure the best self-care, you may have to be your own harshest task master. This means forcing yourself to do things you might prefer to avoid, motivating yourself to work on personal growth, and sometimes just telling yourself ‘no’ to many things that might keep you from advancing in your self-development. 

Self-Care on the Job

Your supervisors will be responsible for your workload management. Proper workload assignments should consider not only what’s good for the worker, but ultimately what’s also best for overall worker productivity and the company as well. You can help by taking steps in your own interests on the job. And sometimes you may need to assert yourself to help ensure you get what you need so your productivity remains at its peak.

As covered earlier, one of the first steps to take when dealing with demanding customer service challenges is to protect yourself with the proper mindset and attitude. Remember just because a customer or coworker may be agitated or angry does not mean you need to absorb it or respond in kind. Negative emotions can have a harmful effect on your body’s immune systems, and increase your chances of getting sick. You can be most effective as a customer service provider by maintaining an objective detachment, but still remain focused, alert, understanding, caring, unemotional, and—most of all—patient.

And both you and your supervisor need to ensure you take regular breaks and rest periods. Studies show that without sufficient rest, worker productivity drops considerably with potentially high costs to the company. One study estimates that because workers don’t get sufficient amounts of rest, it costs the U.S. national economy some $63-billion per year in lost productivity.

Some workers have been found to substantially increase their productivity with just a 20-minute nap during the workday. Studies demonstrate that working in 90-minute intervals with intervening rest periods maximizes productivity and overcomes worker fatigue. Some companies such as Google, Coca-Cola, and Green Mountain provide renewal rooms for their workers to relax, take naps, meditate, and eat healthy snacks. These companies in return benefit from higher levels of worker productivity and job satisfaction.

Self-Care After The Job

It’s your skillful ability to connect with customers and empathize with their problems that makes you an effective and valuable employee. But it’s important to protect yourself from the draining influences of dealing with problems all day long, and make sure that you don’t take them home with you at the end of your shift.

As you transit home when your workday is done, it might help to visualize leaving all your cares along the side of the road or track, tossing them out one-by-one: customer problems, conflicts with coworkers, frustrations and unresolved issues. You can pick them up again as you head back to work if you wish—they’ll still be waiting for you.

Once you get home, try to take an hour just for yourself to rest and replenish. Exercise with a walk or a visit to the gym. Read something light. Listen to your favorite music. Get a massage. Take a long bath. Watch your children play. Cuddle up with a pet. Whatever it takes to put your mind at rest, and calm your cares away.

And remember to keep your work into context—it’s not just about the money you earn, but the enjoyment you get from it, and the contributions you are able to make to your family and loved ones. Life is certainly about much more than working and paying bills. Try to find other outlets for your talents and creativity. Volunteering for worthy projects can help you find greater personal satisfaction than you might find solely on the job site. Joining with community programs, churches, service clubs, may increase your social networking with others, and also help contribute to the larger world around you. It’s invigorating and empowering to spread your good will and abilities beyond your own personal sphere.

Most important is to remember you can’t help others unless you are taking good care of yourself. Proper self-care can help ensure you’re the best person you can be—on the job, at home, and in the greater community where you live.


  • Effective workers need to partner with their employers to ensure they take the proper steps for time management and productivity.
  • Sufficient rest periods every 90-minutes can keep workers at maximum efficiency.
  • Workers should beware of allowing negative emotions at the job place to impact their well-being.
  • Personal time for relaxation and other activities can help a person rejuvenate and keep a healthy perspective on work and life.

PDF file of this lesson: Time, Stress, and Self Care