Learning to cope with work stress
Stress will always be inevitable. It comes in and out of our lives regularly. It can walk all over us easily unless we take action. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are some thoughts for handling stress without inducing more strain and hassle.
1. Figure out what is causing the stress.
Oftentimes, when we’re feeling stressed, it can seem like a big mess with stressors popping up everywhere. We can start to feel like we are involved in a game of dodge ball, ducking and diving so we don’t get hit by a load of balls. We take a defensive position, and it doesn't work.
Instead of feeling that you are flailing day to day, try to identify what you are actually stressed about. Is it a project at work doing it, an upcoming test or exam, a dispute with your boss, a load of laundry, or even a fight with your family?
By getting specific and finding the stressors in your life, you are one step closer to getting control of them and taking action.
2. Figure out what you can control and work on controlling that.
While you certainly cannot control what your boss does or what your in-laws are saying or even the sour state of the economy, you sure can control how you react to it, how you accomplish your work, how you spend your time in the day and what you spend your cash on.
The worst thing for stress is attempting to take control over the uncontrollable things. Since you will inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you will only get more stressed out and feel even more helpless. When you have thought through what is stressing you out, identify the ones that you can control, and determine the best ways to take control of it.
Take a work project for example. If the size of it is stressing you out, discuss it over with your supervisor or try to break the project down into a step-wise task and deadline project.
Stress can be very paralyzing. Taking control of what is within your power gets you moving forward and it can be empowering and invigorating.
3. Do what you enjoy and love.
It’s much easier to manage the pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you enjoy. Even if your job is huge stress, you can find at least one hobby that can enrich your world. What are you passionate about? Not sure? Well try to experiment with a different activities to find some that are especially meaningful and fulfilling to you.
4. Manage your time efficiently.
One of the biggest stressors for a lot of people is a lack of time. Their to-do list grows, while time flies. How often have needed more hours in the day or heard others lament their own lack of time? But you have got more time than you think.
We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least 7 hours of sleeping time per night and lead fulfilling lives.
5. Create a range of techniques.
The same one style stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For example, while deep breathing is helpful when you are stuck in traffic or at home, it won't rescue you during a business meeting with others there.
6. Choose to remove some of the negotiables from your plate.
Look over your daily and weekly activities to see what you could pick off your plate. For example: "Do your kids love their extracurricular activities, or are they just doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many things, and so stealing time from the ones where you might make the most impact? Does your whole department really have to meet once per week or have that daily conference phone call?"
Reducing your negotiable tasks can certainly reduce your stress.
7. Are you leaving yourself open to stress?
Whether you realise something is a stressor depends in part on your state of mind and body at that time. Each transaction we are involved in can take place in a very specific context that is affected by our health, psychoactive substances, sleep, whether we’ve had breakfast today and if you're feeling physically fit."
So if you are not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you could be leaving yourself open to extra stress. When you are sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled up with coffee, even the smallest stressors can make a huge impact.
8. Preserve clear and good boundaries.
If you are a people-pleaser like me, saying no can feel like you are abandoning someone, that you have become a terrible person or that you are throwing all civility out the window. That of course couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort that you feel are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra chore or activity or doing something that just doesn’t contribute any value to your life.
Most productive, happy people are very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But don't worry: Building some boundaries is a thing you can learn.
9. Understand there is a difference between caring and worrying.
Our mindset can boost the levels of stress, so a small thing can develop into a pile of problems. We continue worrying over it, somehow thinking that this is a productive response to stress. But we mistake worry for taking action.
A famous therapist uses the simple example of houseplants. He wrote: "If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering."
Similarly, worrying about your finances does nothing but make you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking any positive action). Caring about your finances, however, means sitting down and creating a budget, paying bills on time and reducing how often you might dine out.
Even this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring might help you adjust your reaction to stress.
10. Embrace your mistakes or at least don’t bend under perfectionism.
Another mindset that can really push stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and spending your days walking around on eggshells can be exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Thats really putting some pressure on yourself! And as we all know but sometimes forget: Perfectionism is not possible and not human either.