How Can We Manage Personal Stress?
Work in the contemporary business industry is inherently stressful. We’re constantly looking at deadlines on our calendar, upcoming projects that loom over us like the Sword of Damocles; ever-present stress and anxiety about even the smallest things. Stress leads us to unhealthy outcomes and feelings that can manifest into serious situations:
- Lack of progression or advancement due to complacency or anxiety
- A feeling of being undervalued, underutilized and underappreciated
- Emerging conflicts between coworkers and leadership
Maybe you’ve experienced these at one time or another, or maybe you’re feeling them right now. In any case, each one of these situations is the culmination of weeks to years of inadequate or nonexistent stress management. We might not even notice these feelings creeping up on us until it’s too late.
How Stress Starts
The causes of stress at work often start with feeling generally overwhelmed, but can show itself in other, more specific ways too:
- Constant worry over deadlines or how others think of your work
- Fidgeting or feeling the need to move more than usual
- Lost time spent on breaks or in the bathroom
Everyone is different, but stressful situations are easy to notice. Once we do, we can try to harness them into more productive behavior.
Taking Advantage of Your Stressful Moments
Strategies for managing stress in the workplace often involve understanding exactly what it is that triggers those anxious moments. We tend to put ourselves down when we think we can’t do something. On the other hand, we can take that anxiousness and channel it into a workflow that works for us, not against us.
When you first start noticing that worry, try to “capture” it by thinking about what exactly is making you feel that way, then write it down. Sometimes, seeing what we’re thinking on paper helps to essentially “snap us out of it” and get back to level ground. Once you’re able to do that, focusing on the task at hand becomes much easier.
Be Productive, Not Overwhelmed
The root cause of all work-related stress is the mounting anxiety that comes from all of the tasks we need to get done. If you feel yourself starting to slip, experiment with a new form of organizing your thoughts and tasks into something manageable. Here are a few creative ways to reduce stress at work:
- Have a personal desk journal, and write how you feel about work each day. You can come back to this and see the patterns of when your stress begins.
- Ensure that your work calendar is clear, legible, and maybe even has a checklist that you can use to motivate yourself to stay on task, and stay productive.
- Have a friend outside of work to talk to about how you’re feeling. Being able to have a springboard with someone you trust is vital to noticing potential problems earlier.
Keeping yourself free from that overwhelming fear of inadequacy is difficult, no question. Luckily, these resources and steps are a great way to understand the “how and why” of that fear. We can work towards bettering ourselves by letting go of that negativity and striving for our positive moments of accomplishment. Once we recognize and take charge of the emotions we feel, we can help ourselves become healthier and more productive in the workplace and beyond.