“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Getting Better at Handling Work-Related Stress
While a little stress can help nudge us toward a desired outcome, feeling completely overwhelmed by excessive amounts of stress/worry can cause serious harm to our well-being and personal productivity.
When we have a lot going on, it can be a challenge to know what to prioritize. In order to bring about actual change, we must first lower our stress levels so that we can think straight and set a good plan in place. When we are effectively managing our lives and our stress levels, we can operate from a place of calm, improve our productivity, and make thoughtful decisions.
Here are five strategies to help you get started:
Recognize the Source of Your Stress
Write down your three biggest stressors and why they are causing so much worry.
What do you wish was different about each situation or stressor? Is there anything you could try doing that you haven’t already tried to begin to improve the situation? How long has it felt this bad?
Perhaps you have a difficult relationship with your boss or business partner, or maybe you feel stuck when it comes to making an important life decision… perhaps you’re struggling in an important relationship and are unsure if things can really be fixed.
Taking some time to clarify your concerns will help you to begin brainstorming appropriate solutions and action steps.
Plan Some Fun
When we’re stressed or overwhelmed, we can easily neglect the importance of lighter moments. In his popular book Play, Dr. Stuart Brown illustrates how play is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. Don’t let a busy or demanding schedule prevent you from enjoying some fun!
Plan a night out with friends or with your partner. Be sure to set the date at least a week in advance so you have some time to anticipate it.
Create a Positive Support System
Adequate support is critical when it comes to managing your stress levels. It can significantly help to diversify your support system. For example, if you’re in a relationship, maybe your partner is an important source of support, but perhaps you have an outside friend or a colleague who just “gets it” with whom you can also rely on for support.
In creating a variety of choices, you strengthen your ability to manage daily stressors more effectively. Community supports are also a great addition— your local yoga studio or that spin class you love, or even an old hobby you’ve put on the back burner can provide a much needed respite from work-related stress. Diversify your support system so you have a menu of options throughout the day, week, and month.
Don’t Forget to Laugh
We all love to laugh, but sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, we just don’t feel like it or think to engage in lightheartedness. Have a favorite youtube video or comedian? Add them to your support network. Give yourself a mini comedy break and experience the many benefits of laughter throughout your week. If you come across something especially funny, share it with a friend who you know will appreciate it too. This helps to build connection around the issues and serves as a mini distraction to help you get through a tough day.
Ask For Help
Sometimes it’s tough to ask for help or be vulnerable about what’s not going well or working out. But doing so often has many benefits. It’s okay to start small, maybe with one friend over coffee or brunch. Try sharing a mild-moderate concern that you don’t usually talk about together.
You might start with: “I’ve been wanting to discuss this with someone, but it’s really difficult for me to share it.” Being able to develop a comfort level with sharing from a place of vulnerability is challenging at times, but often leads to more satisfying relationships and deeper intimacy. Saying something like: “I’m overwhelmed and unhappy at work, and I’m not sure what to do about it.” Having difficult conversations and sharing vulnerabilities often become easier with practice.
It’s inevitable that we will always have to deal with some level of stress—whether work-related or due to other relationships (family and friends), politics, our dating life, illness, etc., the key then becomes how do we go about proactively managing stress so that it’s not as overwhelming or getting in the way of our goals.
By engaging in some of the options above, over time you’ll learn more about what works best for you. With a menu of options that you can choose from throughout the week, you’ll strengthen your ability to manage your stress levels more easily.