Coping with Stress in the Workplace
These four suggestions will help you reduce your level of stress at work.
By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | June 29, 2017
You have too much “on your plate,” deadlines are looming, people are counting on you, and to top it all off, you have several family obligations needing your attention. You’re under a lot of pressure and suspect the quality of your work is suffering 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. She advocates the following scientifically-proven strategies for coping with stress in the workplace.
Self-compassion is the willingness to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding. Studies show that people who are compassionate towards themselves are happier, more optimistic, less anxious, and even less prone to depression. That’s probably not surprising, but here’s the kicker: they’re more successful, too. A little self-compassion when things are at their most difficult can reduce your stress and improve your performance, by making it easier to learn from your mistakes.
Remember the “Big Picture”
Anything you need or want to do can be viewed from more than one perspective. For instance, “exercising” can be described in “Big Picture” terms, such as “getting healthier” — the why of exercising — or it can be described in more concrete terms, like “running two miles” — the how of exercising. Thinking “Big Picture” about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenge by simply linking one, often small action, to a greater meaning or purpose.
Develop more routines
If I ask you to name the major causes of stress in your work life, you would probably say things like deadlines, a heavy workload, an obstinate co-worker, or maybe a terrible boss. You probably wouldn’t say “having to make so many decisions,” because most people aren’t aware that this is a powerful and common cause of stress in their lives. Every time you make a decision — whether it’s personal or professional, simple or complex — you create a state of mental tension (or anxiety) that is, in fact, stressful.
The solution is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make by using routines. If there’s something you need to do every day, do it at the same time every day. Have a routine for preparing for your day in the morning, and packing up to go home at night. Simple routines can dramatically reduce your number of decisions and corresponding experiences of stress
This form of planning is a proven, powerful way to help you achieve any goal. Nearly 200 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task can double or triple your chances of getting it done.
This enables you to seize a critical moment and make that important call, even when you are busy doing other things. Personally, there are few better ways to reduce stress than crossing things off your to-do list.
Our lives are significantly invested in our jobs. It’s almost impossible to be any kind of career professional these days without experiencing frequent periods of intense stress. The difference between those who are successful and those who fail is not about whether you suffer from stress, but how you cope with the inevitable stress that comes with almost any job.