How to Manage stress more effectively in the Workplace

Some Statistics highlighting the epidemic of modern day stress

  • The majority of Amity Wellness guests work in excess of a 50-hour workweek and list work stress as one of the number one reasons for attending the wellness retreat.
  • Research shows the average person is juggling around 60 personal and professional tasks/projects at any one time.
  • In a 2015 survey, the top areas of chronic stress in the west were; Money/finances, Work, Family Responsibilities and health concerns and some of the top causes of stress were; Bereavement, Illness, Divorce, Moving house, Losing job, Marriage, Addiction, lack of purpose
  • 76% of people say that work stress negatively affects their personal relationships at home.
  • 66% admit that they don’t sleep well due to work stress

We all have the same amount of hours in the day and we are all no stranger to stress but how do some people seem to remain calm, relaxed and happy in the work place while others get depressed, anxious and burn out?

IT’S NOT THE LOAD THAT BREAKS YOU DOWN, IT’S THE WAY THAT YOU CARRY THE LOAD (Jay Shetty).

Most people tend to focus on trying to lighten or reduce the load, instead of focusing on how to effectively manage or carry it.  When we learn to manage stress, instead of letting it manage us, we can create a successful, productive and happier life.

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Tips for managing stress

1: ATTITUDES AND PERCEPTION OF STRESS CHANGES THE WAY THAT STRESS AFFECTS YOU

You are responsible for determining your relationship with stress.  Perception is very important as your thoughts create your own personal reality.

Remember perception and acceptance is important, any meaningful pursuit in your life will require pressure, any purposeful objective will have challenges and any great achievement that was ever made in the world involved overcoming obstacles, fear, and stress.

There is an upside to experiencing intermittent periods of acute stress and having short-term goals, targets and deadlines. It can increase our attention, focus, passion, drive, determination, interest, motivation, creativity, productivity, development and performance.

We need enough stress to push us forwards but not so much that we allow it to push us over the edge.

2: FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT YOU CAN CONTROL, AND NOT ON WHAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL

Feeling helpless and out of control decreases confidence, focus, performance and energy but we must accept that there are lots of things in life that we cant control (weather, death, events, other people etc.).  Thinking about, talking about or focusing on these unchangeable events only makes the situation worse and guarantees a welcome party for stress and anxiety.

Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you think you want/need, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve so much more.

It’s important to stay proactive, not dwelling on the problems but focusing the energy on the solutions and the things that can be controlled, changed or improved.

Forget who hurt you yesterday, but don’t forget who loves you today.  Forget the past that makes you cry and focus on the present that makes you smile.  Forget the pain, but never forget the lessons you gained (Rob Dial).

3: WELCOME AND EMBRACE CHANGE

Change is inevitable.  Fear of change can hold us hostage in a stagnant comfort zone, attached to the familiar and addicted to the predictability of order.  Sometimes change will move in your favour, sometimes not but there is always an opportunity for post traumatic growth as even if the change is bad, your greatest pain can help you to recognize your greatest potential.

Change helps us to grow, learn, adapt and evolve, if everything is too comfortable or easy then its important to look for news ways to develop yourself.

Making a big life change is scary.  But, know what’s scarier? REGRET.

4: HAVE PATIENCE

Remove self-imposed stress by focusing and embracing the journey of progression instead of solely focusing on the end goal, target or deadline.

Impatience or a sense of urgency for more success, money, rewards, recognition, power, weight loss or results is going to leave you constantly feeling in a place of lack.  If you are working hard and purposefully and improving your value, experience and knowledge, you are in a state of flow progressing towards your dreams.

Trust the wait and embrace the uncertainty, everything will come at the perfect time.  When nothing is certain anything is possible.

5: FIND BALANCE

If stress becomes chronic and continuous and you don’t intervene, then it can result in anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, hormone imbalances, depression, degradation, poor performance and eventually burn out.

Learning to balance the dynamics of stress through self-care and stress management tools is crucial.  Planned vacations, retreats and down time are important but daily short term interventions and rituals are equally important.

Be careful not to distract yourself with destructive habits that provide short-term instant gratification, such as caffeine, alcohol, drugs, sugar etc.

This could be breath work, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, exercise, hobbies, reading, listening to music, massage, studying, spending time with loved ones, therapy etc.

Planning your day using the ‘focus then free’ method can also be effective; this is where you create 60-90 minute dedicated work chucks followed by 10-15 minute reflection breaks to decompress.

6: DON’T TAKE LIFE TOO SERIOUSLY

None of us are getting out of here alive, sometimes the things that we overthink as being very important are in perspective meaningless when it comes to the end of your days.  Time, health and family are often the three things that people take for granted until it is too late.

Don’t cause yourself unnecessary suffering or stress by overreacting to every little problem.  Train to respond and not to react, acknowledge the bigger picture and move past the small things to improve your resilience.

Everyday might not be a good day but there is usually something good to be found in each day if you look for it.

7: BREATHE

Notice the change in breath during periods of anxiety, stress or panic attack.  Learn to use your breath as your stress coach as it’s the perfect way to engage the Para-sympathetic nervous system.

Focus on taking at least 10 intentional deep breaths (breath in for the count of 4 and lengthen the exhale) each time you use the rest room to bring you back to a place of calm at intermittent periods throughout your day.

8:KEEP LEARNING AND CONTINUE TO MAKE YOURSELF MORE VALUABLE

In a world that never stops changing, you can never stop learning and growing.  Every interaction you have is a chance to learn something.  Don’t fall behind in your learning or self-development, the journey of growth is empowering.

Today we have plentiful opportunities to learn and develop ourselves. Research shows that there is a wide range of health benefits to lifelong learning too. It stimulates brain activity; memory retention and can reduce stress. Curiosity keeps the mind alert, sharp, and helps provide a sense of motivation and achievement.

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.  You have countless better versions of yourself, inside you. They are waiting to be grown, expressed and realized.

9: BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS AND UNDERSTAND OTHERS ROLES

It’s easy to focus on yourself and how everything affects you but understanding others roles in the workplace and how your decisions, commitment and actions effect those around you is important for supportive team work.

Take time to connect and build healthy authentic relationships with your colleagues but don’t take professional work critique personally.  Your mind believes everything you tell it and everything you let others tell it, if you accept others opinions of you as truth, your shaping your own mind and accepting it as reality.  Look at all feedback good or bad as an opportunity for growth and development.

10: REMEMBER YOU ALWAYS HAVE OPTIONS

There are always opportunities, other paths, other work places, other choices, other relationships, other countries, even if they are not immediately obvious, know your worth and that you always have other options.  Remaining in an unhealthy or unhappy work environment will not help you, your employer or the organization.

Be courageous enough to ignite change if something isn’t working for you and to follow your dreams.

A ship is safe in the harbor but that is not what ships are built for.  Your dreams are safe if you don’t act on them, but that’s not what your dreams were sent for.

More Information, tips and advice

During my daily morning walk with the dog, I listen to podcasts on shuffle; I feel this offers me a valuable opportunity for diversity in my learning, development and growth.

This blog post and the golden nuggets of advice it contains was inspired by a podcast with the fantastic Jay Shetty combined with my own personal thoughts.

To listen to the full podcast, please search for the following podcast: 7 Ways successful people stay calm at work and manage work stress more effectively – On Purpose with Jay Shetty