Stress is defined as "a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances." When we feel stressed, our body perceives a threat to our well being and releases a chemical that starts the "fight or flight" response. We have all felt it - our heart rate increases, our breath quickens, and our blood pressure goes up. These days it would be difficult to find an individual that does not experience stress at work and/or at home. While there is evidence that some stress is good for us, prolonged or chronic stress can be detrimental to our health.
Here are 5 tools to help control work-related stress:
Sometimes we are faced with a stressful situation and our knee-jerk reaction is to panic and over-react. When we compare the cause of the stress to truly stressful situations (9/11, medical issues, a natural disaster), it can help calm us and keep things in perspective. There is a reason "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" has sold over 25 million copies.
Studies show that taking a single deep breath or practicing a short meditation helps us think more clearly and reduces stress.
Feeling overwhelmed is one of many stress symptoms. When we feel like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it, using our calendar to schedule time for each task that needs to get done can make us feel in greater control. Writing it all down (or putting everything into your phone, tablet, computer) enables our mind to relax. This is especially true if we know we have sufficient time to get everything done.
4. Do Less
If we follow step #3 only to discover that we do not have enough time to do it all, perhaps we should consider doing less. Are there items on our list that are not essential to our success? Back-burner projects are sometimes better left undone. This is true even for those of us who have the urge to complete everything we have on our list.
5. Ask for Help
We sometimes think that asking for help makes us appear vulnerable. While we might be more than happy to offer help, it is sometimes uncomfortable to seek the help of others. The most successful companies are those whose employees are looking out for the greater good of the firm, not just their own personal success. Being a good team member means not only helping others, but asking for help when our plate is too full. The highest achieving employees have the wisdom to know when they need to ask for assistance.