Work stress is unavoidable. From dense emails that cause us to question the motives of our colleagues, to not feeling like we’re progressing as we should, and at times, simply having too much to do, the workplace can be tricky to navigate. And just because we leave the office at 6pm doesn’t mean we leave work stress behind. We can’t completely eliminate stress, so the next best thing is to learn how to manage it.
Exercise, meditation and a good nutrition plan all play a role in long term stress management. But what can you do when you’re stuck at your desk and you can’t take a walk around the block to cool off?
Have you ever noticed that some people handle difficult situations better than others? How stress can make some people crumble while others go into battle mode? Maybe in your case, it paralyzes you, stops you from being able to concentrate on getting your work done and in turn causes you even more stress. So what’s the difference? Mindset.
Any pop psychologist will tell you that most situations aren’t inherently good or bad, it’s how we think about the situation itself that makes it so. Here are three ways to shift your mindset to help you reduce work stress in under a minute.
1. Focus on the solution.
Much of our stress comes as a result of focusing on the problem. We get overwhelmed by the details and downward spiral into all the possible negative outcomes that will result if the problem doesn’t get fixed. If you make the shift towards being solution focused, you’re already taking steps to make things better. That’s a great start. Your mental energy has something very concrete to focus on. The word “focus” is key. When you’re stressing out, you’re doing mental gymnastics as your mind jumps around from one place to another. On the other hand, when you slow down and really concentrate on something, your mind simply can’t spin out of control. Next time you’re stressing out about something, take a step back. It only takes a minute to redirect your thoughts.
2. Stop blaming yourself.
When we’re stressed, our natural instinct is to look for the cause so we can assign blame. Often, that blame gets pointed inward. We berate ourselves with questions like “How could we have let this happen?” and “Why weren’t we more on top of things?” Try to notice this pattern next time it happens. Again, take a step back and make a mindset shift. Self blame does a bang up job of making us feel terrible in ways that are completely disproportionate to the situation. It also distorts our outlook as well as our ability to get things resolved. The best we can do is recognize that in the short term, we need to focus on the solution and in the long term, we will have learned from the experience.
3. Trust Yourself.
Work stress can also stem from self doubt. For example, the excitement of being awarded a big project can turn into stress if you start doubting your ability to get the job done. First, you have to believe you can handle the stress. Once you’ve examined the task or project, realistically map out what you can easily handle and what you may need help with. Looking at a problem as a whole can cause those mental gymnastics to start up. Instead, when you break things down, you can clearly see what you need to focus on and when. You’ll also have more faith in your ability to get the job done!
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