Quick Tips for Handling Stress at Work

Quick Tips for Handling Stress at Work

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“The time to relax is when you don't have time for it,” as famous American journalist Sydney J. Harris once said. Some professions and workplaces are more stressful than others, but none has to be nerve-wracking up to a point where you want to scream and break every piece of furniture in the office.

The excessive tension and pressure will eventually take a toll on your physical and mental health with upset stomach, headaches or migraines being only a few of the possible side effects. This can interfere with your ability to do your job or maintain social relationships, and the vicious cycle of stress, poor performance and lack of confidence continues. Breaking the pattern can be the difference between success and disappointment.

“Chronic stress, which is really about our inability to better manage our thoughts and emotions, would be the primary or even the sole reason why we aren’t able to move toward our goals,” John Kalinowski, life coach and mindfulness experts, says.

The main causes of anxiety at work is overload, issues with colleagues and work-life balance and job security, according to the American Institute of Stress. “The common thread among most stressors is how we’re managing those stressors,” Kalinowski adds. The only aspect of your work environment that you have control over is your own situation. “In work, and in life, we have much more control over how we manage the stressors than over the stressors themselves.”

Research has shown that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42 percent say their coworkers need such help. Don’t become a statistic. There are easy and tips you can follow to avoid to regain your sanity.

“We do not have to be a victim to external stressors,” Kalinowski says. “Each of us has the power to manage our stress differently, and therefore improve our quality of life. Stress is something we can start managing better right now, if we approach it from the inside out, instead of the outside in.”

Identify what’s really stressing you out

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“It is important to know which stressors trigger you the most so that you start learning how to manage those big ones first and how to proactively prepare for them,” John Kalinowski, life coach and mindfulness experts, says. You can start by setting an intention to track yourself for one week, and track the moments when you feel the most upset, reactive, or stressed. “You’ll start to see patterns and then you have to start asking yourself some deeper questions about why those things are causing you so much discomfort,” he adds.

Draw boundaries between work and personal life

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Drawing the line is not an easy task and will take some practice. “It starts with yourself, so it’s important to start creating awareness around when you’re stressed or upset and be able to ask yourself what triggered you and why,” Kalinowski says. First, you need to get clear on your role in the stress, and then you can start setting boundaries.

Get out of the office when you feel anxiety

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“Any time you can take a step back from a situation that’s upsetting you, it’s typically beneficial,” Kalinowski says. “I don’t believe that it’s entirely healthy to stay cooped up in a windowless office all day regardless, so getting some time outside is almost always beneficial whether you’re stressed or not.” Take a break for a few minutes to get some fresh air and recharge. This is a simple recovery process – get outside and don’t think about work for 15 minutes. The world won’t end in the meantime.

Take deep breaths

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“Even just taking a couple of long deep breaths when you’re stressed or anxious can help to take the edge off and help you to manage your reaction,” Kalinowski says. If there is one thing you should do during your lunch break when you feel any stress, it’s breathing. It tends to get shallower when we’re upset or stressed, which just exacerbates the unpleasant feelings. “Look up at the sky and take some nice long deep breaths, then tell yourself that you can handle whatever you’re dealing with. You got this.”

Write it down

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“Our brains tend to process information better by writing it down,” Kalinowski says. “So, just sitting down at the computer or with a notebook and writing about the situation you’re struggling with, you are far more likely to find some clarity and peace than you are if you’re just sitting at your desk letting it all snowball in your head.”

Balance your schedule

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Balance is key but many people make a lot of mistakes when they try to delegate responsibilities and task so they are more productive. It ends up backfiring. “One helpful first step in balancing your schedule is insuring that you start out the day operating from a calm and centered place,” Kalinowski says. Mediating, of which he is a fan, is one way of achieving that.  

Organize your mornings

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Another way is organizing your morning so that you’re not a frantic mess flying out the door every day. “[This] can be a huge help in balancing other aspects of your life,” Kalinowski adds.

Don’t reach for food

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Stress is often used as an excuse to eat junk food and drink alcohol. Neither is good for you; before your now it, your jeans won't fit and you have high blood pressure. Developing healthier response to anxiety is a better way of handling the tension. “It’s about flipping the concept of stress around and looking inward,” Kalinowski says. “It’s about learning to better manage the stress so that you have more control over emotions and therefore your habit of emotionally grabbing for the food.”

Being a perfectionist is not a good thing

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Kalinowski cites author/speaker Brené Brown and her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.” “It talks all about how perfectionism actually stems from some form of shame, meaning it's typically a type of overcompensation for something that has happened or is happening in your life.” He adds that “striving for excellence” is a much healthier approach than “striving for perfection” because the latter is unattainable and, therefore, inherently stress-inducing. 

Talk the stress out

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“Talking definitely helps,” he says. But not everyone has someone at work or has the type of work environment which fosters connecting on that level. “But we do need to have a few people in our lives who can help us navigate life’s stresses as they come up. Having a coach is obviously a great option, but also having a couple of friends who will listen, empathize, but also call you out on your shit is super vital as well.”

Laugh it out too

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“Humor and laughing are super healing in general,” Kalinowski says. “I always try to keep people around me who I can laugh with, and who bring that out in me,” he adds. But even if such people are not around at the moment, “there’s always something funny on television or a funny book to read.” Try the internet as well. “Unless we’re living on a desert island, we have options. If we’re looking for it, we will find it.”