‘A smooth sea never made a skilful mariner’
There’s ‘bad’ stress which can leave us feeling overwhelmed, drained, burnt-out and unproductive. If you do not perceive your life’s activities to be stressful, you are less likely to be negatively affected by stress whether it’s at work or in your private time according to research by Mark & Smith in 2008.
There’s also good stress which pumps up our adrenalin and cortisol levels and makes us more focused and productive. These increased hormonal levels can only support us if we use them in short bursts. They actually charge us to be productive and live a better and healthier life.
Here are 5 key strategies to help you cope, especially with your work stress where you may have little or no influence over the primary stressors.
- Check in with others in your work environment
If you feel stress is getting too much for you, ask others if they are having similar experiences. Sharing your thoughts and feelings about the situation can produce some useful coping strategies and help build a supportive network around you.
- Avoid the ‘perfectionism’ habit
This habit puts pressure on you as well as those who work with you. Replace perfect with excellent and decide which things fall into this category. Most things only need to be “done well”. Let go of your high expectations of being “perfect”. It’s healthier to enjoy what you’re doing with excellence and well rather than playing the perfection game.
- Allow yourself ‘time out’ sessions to re-energise during the day
As stress levels build up slowly we often miss the warning signals. Create regular break times each day when you can stop for a few minutes, stretch your body, breathe low and slow and have something healthy to eat/drink and go for a walk. Taking time out helps lower stress build-up, allows time for mental clean up, and improves your physical and emotional well-being. Regularly check how relaxed your body feels so that you are aware of when you are holding tension in your body – that’s the signal to take a break and let go of the stress.
- Decide what’s really important to YOU, in your life
At the end of each day, do you have enough energy and enthusiasm left for your spouse, partner, children, friends, family or yourself, or have you given it all to your work? Establish a “cooling off time” at the end of the day to wrap up the day’s activities, organise yourself for the next day, and re-focus your energy on your personal life. Leave work at work. Home time is for re-energising, rest, relaxation and nurturing yourself.
- Maintain a positive mindset.
Notice when you’re slipping into only seeing faults or what could go wrong. As the late Zig Zigler said, “avoid stinking thinking” as it is demoralising and kills enthusiasm (yours and those around you). Learn to be the master of your mindset and create more good things and recognise your achievements each day.