Sometimes stress hits you out of nowhere; other times you can feel it coming. But no matter how it rears its ugly head, you’ve no doubt dealt with it. After all, 75 percent of people report experiencing some sort of physical symptoms as a result of on-the-job stress.
So, the question remains: Are you dealing with stressful situations successfully?
The cause of your stress may be out of your control, but how you respond to it doesn’t have to be. Rather than just accepting stress as a matter of fact, take charge and try the following to help combat it at work:
1. Adopt a little self-discipline.
You can, as they say, do anything, but you don’t have to do everything. Taking on more than you can handle does no one any good, at least not in the long run. It’ll just lead to burn out.
If you reach your limit with your workload, let people know. Tell them that you wish you had time to help out, but you can’t take on additional work right now. We’ve all hit that point before, so they’ll understand.
2. Loosen up on the reins.
Some people have a hard time entrusting others with their responsibilities, but this inability to delegate could be causing your stress. And while a stressful situation isn’t the ideal time to identify and train someone, now’s the time to do it.
Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can hand off to a colleague that doesn’t need my stamp of approval?” Small, one-time tasks can easily go to another person and will help you become comfortable with delegating.
3. Ask for help.
Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness, so you avoid it like the plague. But if you think about the last time someone asked the same of you, you’ll realize it’s just not true. People won’t think any differently of you.
This isn’t to say asking for help won’t feel uncomfortable. It’s a vulnerable position for most people. But circumstances sometimes call for assistance. Like delegating tasks, start small and work up to larger requests.
4. Take a break from it all.
Chances are, when you feel stress building, you react like most people and push through, convincing yourself that if you just get one more thing off your plate, you’ll feel much better.
The only problem: stress often affects your ability to focus. A better option is to take a time out. Get away from your desk, go for a walk, do anything you can do to clear your head. Once you come back, you’ll be more productive.
5. Find your balance.
When things heat up at work, most people put the “extracurriculars” on the back burner. But these are the times when you need them most. They’ll help you maintain your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Make a point of getting back to the gym, going out with friends, and spending time with family. Whatever you did before the stress took hold, get back to those routines. They’ll help you deal with what’s going on in the workplace.
6. Make a few allies.
At a bare minimum, you’re spending 40 hours a week at work. There’s no reason you shouldn’t have at least one colleague you can call a genuine friend. Having people on your “side” can help reduce stress.
Take the time to cultivate real friendships at work. It’ll give you the opportunity to talk things out with someone who understands where you’re coming from. Plus, the mere act of talking can help you blow off steam — and curtail stress.
7. Set realistic expectations.
There are only so many hours in the day. If you go in thinking you can accomplish everything on your to-do list, you just set yourself up to fail — and increased your stress level, for that matter.
Plan your day accordingly. And remember, we often underestimate how long things will take to complete. If you think a project will take three hours, tack on an additional hour. You can catch up on other things if it takes less time.
8. Look for the humor.
When things get stressful, our natural reaction is to get serious. We put our nose to the grindstone and don’t come up until we’ve rubbed it raw. While stress itself isn’t a laughing matter, try to find some humor in the situation.
Find a way to break the tension for yourself and others. Share a joke or funny story. Pull up a cat video on your phone (we all love those). Do anything to take your mind off the situation and enjoy a laugh.
On the job stress is something we all face during those busy periods at work, but learning how to manage it will lead you to better job performance and satisfaction. There is no single formula that will work for everyone, so try out all 8 strategies above and figure out what works best for you!