Coping with Stress for Career Advancement

How can reducing your stress at work demonstrate your readiness for career advancement?

By David Cox | November 06, 2018


You may feel as though you work under “siege” with looming deadlines, people counting on you, and a mixed bag of co-workers and employees who are helpful while others always seem in need of your help. You never have enough time to accomplish everything, and to top it all off; you still have several family obligations requiring your attention. You’re under a lot of pressure, and if you’re not careful, the quality of your work will suffer for it.

Heidi Grant, Ph.D. is a Senior Scientist at the Neuroleadership Institute, Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University, and author of the best-selling book: Succeed: How We Can All Reach Our Goals. Here are three suggestions she offers for coping with stress in the workplace.

Have self-compassion

Self-compassion is the willingness to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding. People who practice self-compassion are happier and more optimistic. They’re also less anxious, and less prone to depression. That’s not very surprising, but here’s the point: they’re even more successful.

When things are at their most difficult, a little self-compassion has been proven to reduce stress and improve performance. Thus, it becomes easier to learn from your mistakes and advance your career.

Remember the “Big Picture”

You can view anything you need or want to do from more than one perspective. For instance, “exercising” can be described in “Big Picture” terms such as “getting healthier,” This answers the question of why we need to exercise. You can also describe it in concrete terms, such as “running two miles.” The description tells us how to exercise.

Thinking Big Picture about your current role can energize you in the face of stress and challenge, by merely linking even one small action to a higher meaning or purpose.

Develop more routines

If I ask you to name the primary causes of stress at work, you would probably say things like deadlines, a heavy workload or difficulties with managers or co-workers. You probably wouldn’t answer by saying “making too many decisions.”

Most people are unaware that this is a common cause of stress. Every time you make a decision, you create mental tension (whether personal or professional, simple or complex). This mental tension causes stress.

You can use routines to reduce the number of decisions you need to make. If you need to do something on a daily basis, doing it at the same time each day will make it a routine action. Creating routines can dramatically reduce your number of decisions and experiences of stress.


Most individuals become financially and emotionally invested in their careers. It’s almost impossible to be an employee at any level these days without experiencing circumstances and situations that may be continuously stressful. Your career advancement is not merely a product of avoiding stress at work. You demonstrate your readiness by improved performance and how you manage the challenges that come with your present role.

David Cox


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