Growing up and enduring life’s curveballs are everyday challenges for all of us. They make for some overwhelming and stressful surroundings. As more difficulties get thrown our way, it seems impossible to face them in an effective, healthy way.
In addition to these daily stressors, we’re also asked to deal with stress in the workplace. And by “deal with stress,” I mean overthinking and jumping to irrational conclusions. However, if you’re anything like me, you continue to search for ways to manage stress in your fast-moving, pressure-filled work environment.
It wasn’t until I reached college that something inside of me changed. I decided I was sick of feeling overwhelmed most days, because let’s face it, being stressed is exhausting.
Here are a few tips, or golden rules, we have developed for how to effectively handle stress in the workplace.
1. Choose how you respond to situations.
It’s like the old saying goes, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”
When it comes to stress, this phrase couldn’t be more relevant. Look at the situation that is causing you anxiety and distinguish the aspects you have control over. For example, you can’t control someone else’s tone of voice, but you can control how you choose to respond to that individual.
2. Take a couple deep breaths.
It can be hard to find time to take a walk or meditate in the workplace, so it is important to find what works best for you in terms of relaxation. Everyone is different and their bodies react differently to stress.
Many researchers suggest the best technique to when you find yourself stressed is to inhale for five seconds, hold it and then exhale at a similar pace. Others suggest relaxing your muscles, as people often tense up during a stressful situation. In this case, perhaps you want to try squeezing a stress ball or similar object.
3. Take Breaks.
Similarly, it’s important to take breaks. This is more of a preemptive step, making it a crucial component to the stress management process.
Studies have shown that when people push themselves too hard, their productivity and energy tend to decrease. This can ultimately lead to even more stress if you’re not getting all your desired tasks completed. To prevent this frustration, take those deep breaths or force yourself to get up and walk around. Even if that means simply walking to the restroom.
Don’t fall into a slump by pushing yourself too hard.
4. Decide how you handle interruptions.
As much as we hate to admit it, interruptions are inevitable. Whether it’s a coworker stopping by for a brief chat or the “ping” of an incoming email, you have to decide how you want to deal with it. After all, if you deal with every distraction as soon it comes into focus, you’re more likely to become less productive, again resulting in, you guessed it, stress.
You can also ignore those pesky little distractions altogether, but this might not be the best choice either. That’s why it’s also important to decipher the urgency of each distraction. If it’s simply a co-worker wanting to chat about weekend plans, you can probably dismiss it, but if they are calling an emergency meeting, chances are you should accept the interruption.
5. Change the way you talk to yourself.
Often times, stress is a result of our subjective interpretations of situations. When something doesn’t go according to plan, we tend to jump to conclusions and act irrationally.
We think to ourselves, “This failed because I suck” or “This is impossible to complete.”
Don’t let failure get you down. It’s easier said than done, I know, but I can confidently say self-doubt is a major stressor for most everyone. Instead of believing a task was unsuccessful because you’re unsuccessful, build yourself up. Encourage yourself.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. An inevitable part of our professional lives.
Although we can’t dodge it completely, we can learn how to properly confront it. By recognizing what situations you have control over, you’ll be able to strategize how to deal with them. Or perhaps you realize you need to take more breaks, relax and give yourself pep talks.
No matter the method, it’s important to figure out what works best for you. Learn how to deal with stress in a way so it won’t spiral into a bigger whirlwind of chaos