How To Handle Work Stress
Long working hours, the pressure of completing projects within tight deadlines, dealing with difficult people, increasing workload, most people seem to accept being stressed as the new normal in their lives. People were already getting overwhelmed by their work, living under the shadow of the covid pandemic, has only made things far worse.
A lot of people just seem to have accepted that there is nothing they can do about the stressors in their lives, hence stress is something that you just have to live with. The ones who find themselves dealing with severely high levels of stress, seem to find rudimentary methods to “cope” with stress. Sometimes, the methods they use to cope with stress turn out to be just as harmful or more harmful than stress itself.
What if I told you there were much better ways to deal with stress?
What if I told you there were ways where you could avoid getting stressed in the first place?
I know, most people who listen to this would think that all this is a load of nonsense.
How can you deal with stress, when the cause of that stress is someone else? most of the time, at work, it is either a heavy workload , tight deadlines, steep targets, unhelpful and selfish team members, or a boss making life totally miserable.
When you try to be as nice as possible with the people around you or you try to explain how some of the demands of work are beyond reasonable. When you do everything in your power and you know there are people who are going to pick holes in your work. When you get the feeling that you are a victim of circumstances or twisted people, how is it possible to find a way to stand strong and not get overwhelmed?
Is Stress The Same For everyone?
The biggest question you need to ask yourself is that, is stress really the same for everyone? does everyone feel the same amount of stress? Does everyone get stressed at the same set of instances?
You might have some people at work, who would begin to sweat the minute they hear that they have been summoned by their boss. Their first thought might be “oh what does he want now”? or “what is bothering him now “.
And then there would be people who would be totally unfazed dealing sitting in the cabin of an aggressive boss, even with their boss throwing the most uncomfortable questions.
Think about sports, you would have some top teams and top players, who would be in their zone no matter how hard the situation might be. They would drag themselves out of losing situations to win, while there would be some other teams who are never safe, no matter how strong their position is. Some teams and players, don’t get fazed at any challenge, while some others tend to struggle, just when they get to the big games.
Stress is mostly rooted in fear. Most of our thoughts rely on our past experiences. If someone has faced a lot of failures or if things haven’t worked out as you would have expected in life, a sense of fear that things won’t work out the way you want it to, will make a space in your mind.
This fear would raise its ugly head every time that you would need to make a decision or if you face a situation either at work or in your personal life.
Two Ways To Deal With Stress
There are two ways to dealing with stress, one would be to learn to deal with stressful situations, calm yourself down when you find yourself feeling stressed. The second and the best method to deal with stress is to increase your resilience towards stress.
What Is Stress
To put it in simple words – Stress is a reaction to change.
We all want our lives to flow at a comfortable pace with us being in complete control of situations but seldom do we have control of all situations.
When situations demand us to do more or if we feel things are no longer in our control, our mind begins to develop issues processing all that new information based on our past experiences. The result being a series of psychological and physiological responses which we call Stress.
Types of Stress
A good example of positive stress would be when you are moving into a new job that you would love to do or getting a promotion. Wouldn’t you be all excited? All set to start a new chapter in your career ? Or the sleeplessness you feel when you are all set to head out on a vacation or when you cannot wait to get your hands on your new car.
All these are examples of positive stress. Positive stress can act as a motivator and is usually pleasing. It gives you a sense of happiness & excitement.
Positive stress also improves people’s performance at work. It acts as a motivator and helps people gear up for new challenges or accept a new change.
The kind of stress that we usually associate the word stress with is called Negative Stress.
You generally feel stressed when you are out of your comfort zone. If you are reading this, I am sure you know the meaning of stress a lot better than what I can explain here. So I am not going to go too deep into it.
Being exposed to high levels of stress can cause a lot of physical ailments as well as a whole host of psychological issues as well. You could end up with, heart diseases, blood pressure issues, diabetes, headaches, it could also accelerate aging.
On the psychological front, it can totally change you as a person. From being a confident individual, ready to take on any situation, you could end up going into a shell, constantly living in a state of anxiety, a constant state of fear that you can’t really understand, why, or what you seem to fear.
How to Handle Stress
Most people find the source of stress to be someone else and not themselves, which is true in most cases. Most of the employees are stressed because of their boss’s attitude or an uncooperative colleague or unreasonable demands at work to name a few.
On the personal front, it could be a family member, who doesn’t seem to like you or someone who loves to get you all irritated.
So the big question is how to handle stress? Is it even possible to be stress-free? How can you change someone so that they stop troubling you, how do you stop them from pushing you towards situations that don’t stress you out, and is this even possible?
The answer lies in what are you really after? Are you out to change the world or do you want to live a life where you don’t feel stressed about things? Do you want a life where you can live in peace or do you want to live wondering why is your boss such a jerk or your colleagues so incompetent? Do you want to have a good time in your personal life or go back home and show your frustration on your near and dear ones?
Here are some of the best methods to tackle stress.
Identify What Stresses You Out
Just as you would start with basics when it comes to any problem-solving exercise, apply the same logic when it comes to sorting out issues in your life, “start with the very basics”.
Identify what is stressing you!.
You could use a journal to record your behaviour. Make notes of all the things that seem to stress you out.
Track the level of stress that you felt at different times of the day. Which event triggered your stress levels and to what level did you feel stressed.
Was it a bare minimum, yet a noticeable level of stress? Or was it a completely uncontrollable level of stress where you had very little control over your responses?
You can keep a complete record of your emotions and the state of your mind.
This will serve as a base for you to not only get an understanding, but also will help you track your progress.
Get Into Problem Solving Mode
One of the best methods to cope with stress is to look at every stressor and to try to find solutions to the problem. Most of the time there is always something that you can do to make things better.
Most people face some challenge or the other at the workplace, however, some people are good at getting around most challenges.
Now, you might feel it is very easy to say this as a third person but never easy when you happen to be the one experiencing all the things. I agree and this is totally true. However, it all boils down to choices that you make. Are you looking to eliminate some of the problems in your life or do you just want to sit still complaining about things?
Look at all the possibilities and consider all options available to you. Be open to learning and explore new ways of solving your problems.
Focus on what you can do, rather than trying to talk about how hard your life is.
Find Ways to Calm Yourself Down
Sometimes, it isn’t easy to get through your day without facing situations that will induce stress. Learning to relax would make your life a lot easier.
Relaxation techniques help you stay calm, think more clearly, stay more focussed, and feel less flustered.
Find your own methods to relax. Some people find listening to music soothing and calming, while some might find a walk to be beneficial. Some might find having a chat with a loved one or a friend to have a calming effect. So, find out what works for you and you can make that a part of your day.
Find methods to calm yourself down.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
If you seem to experience high levels of stress or if you’re under chronic stress, normal things like listening to music or going for walks are not going to do the trick. However, many advanced techniques can help you cope with the symptoms of stress.
Deep breathing is just one such thing. Taking long deep breaths is a technique that is used by many people to keep their stress levels in check. Some of the people who use this technique include the US Navy Seals.
Here is how you do it:
Breathe in for four seconds.
Hold your breath for four seconds
Breathe out for four seconds.
Deep breathing helps your mind and your heart rate to stabilize. When you are stressed the opposite happens, where your breaths become shorter and your heart rate increases. So when you force yourself to change that process, it also alters your heart rate and helps you calm down.
Learn To Say No
This is one of the most clichéd things we hear most of the time. However, it is one of the most important interpersonal skills that you could learn.
When you are not able to cope with your day to day work, there is no point in accepting more work or more responsibility just because you are afraid to decline it.
You don’t want to become the person who says “ok” to everything and you end up with the responsibility of performing tasks, that no one else wants to do.
So learn to be assertive or figure out ways to stop being the one that everyone dumps their work on.
Plan Your Day & Build a Routine
Again this might sound very mundane, however, it helps to have a set routine in your day.
Planning your day in advance gives you an idea about all the tasks that need to be completed in your day.
Assigning specific times for task, gives you the direction or a structure to complete your tasks. When you know exactly what you need to do, you can set about completing the task rather than being in a position where you don’t know how to tackle your day and how to complete your tasks.
Sometimes you might be in a better frame of mind to perform one task over the other. So you can also experiment with the time when seem to be better at handling certain tasks. If you are better at finding your creative flow in the morning, set yourself to complete those tasks in the morning and so on.
This would reduce your stress levels as you would know exactly when you would be able to complete the task and also you wouldn’t be stressing yourself out by doing something when you are not really at your best.
Figure out what distracts you in your day to day work and do your best to avoid them while working.
If it is the constant urge to check your phone for messages or the urge to check some emails. If you keep checking social media every now and if constant phone calls keep draining your focus, find ways to handle them. Put your phone out of reach, if you don’t have to use it for work.
Similarly, keep tabs on your productivity and check what seems to draw you away from your zone. Try to think of how you could overcome them.
In a few cases, you might not be able to completely avoid all your distractions, but you sure can find ways to cope with the ones you can.
If you can put in the time and address most of your distractions, you will be able to accomplish more and in turn, you will be able to keep your stress levels in control.
Get a Life
Have a life beyond work. Spend time on yourself.
Having things to do beyond your professional life will help keep stress at bay. Here’s where your planning comes into play. When you plan your tasks well and when you develop a routine, most of the time you will be able to finish your work within your timelines.
Build a hobby, have something to do regularly over the weekends and if you can spare a few minutes every day, nothing like it.
Having something else to get you excited will help give you much-needed distraction from your work, your work won’t be the only thing on your mind all the time, allowing you to come back fresh and rejuvenated.
Focus On Staying Healthy
When your stress levels are high, you would end up cultivating some not so healthy habits. It could be binge eating or sometimes you might stop paying attention to what you eat.
Begin planning your meals ahead. Have a well balanced and healthy diet and get some exercise.
Exercise could even be a good brisk walk for a few minutes every day. Anything more like yoga or joining a gym and getting some professional guidance would be even better.
The idea is to get active and to maintain a healthy diet.
Get In Touch With a Pro
Stress management tips that you see online are not all that there is. Getting in touch with a professional success coach would be a total eye-opener for most people. The number of tricks and techniques to de-stress in any situation will truly blow your mind.
As I mentioned before, the reasons for each person’s stress levels would be different. And as you would have noticed yourself, some people handle stressful situations better than others. With a little help, there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to become as good as the coolest person you know or even get better than him/her.
Yes, there are methods to transform the way you perceive your environment, people, and situations. Once you learn to deal with the thoughts that make you flustered every time you get into a seemingly tough situation or when you have to face a difficult person, your ability to handle stress would increase exponentially, leaving you feeling far more confident and positive in your life.
Although it would take time to totally transform yourself, all it takes is a strong resolve to get better and the first step to reach out to a pro.
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