I don’t know about you, but I tend to take a stressful situation and overthink it, sometimes letting it get away from me. With stress on the rise, whether you are an individual experiencing stress or a leader managing a staff member dealing with a stressful situation, knowing what stress looks like and having reliable strategies to deal with it can be helpful. Here we discuss ways stress may show up and give you three straightforward ways to deal with stress in the workplace.
How stress can show up.
Signs of stress often show up in the body before we admit to ourselves that it might be time to address a particular situation. Physical signs you may notice are fatigue, muscular tension, and headaches. Also, you may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. When you find yourself having 3 am conversations with someone you have no intention of confronting in the light of day. Then there is my personal favourite stomach upsets; when things are not quite going to plan, she is generally the first to let me know! When you start to notice any of these signs, or signs that you know mean you are experiencing stress, it may be time to address it or let something go.
Emotional signs can be that you have become cynical or critical at work and maybe overreacting and becoming irritable or impatient with co-workers or customers. You find you lack the energy to be consistently productive, and it is hard to concentrate. In general, you don’t want to be there, and others may not enjoy being around you at the moment much either…
When dealing with workplace stress, there are three practical strategies we like to use – first, assess the situation and decide which of the following works best and stick to it. This way, you have an answer for yourself at three am – “you decided on this course of action; that’s what we are doing, so you can pop back to sleep now.”
It may be a case of using one strategy or moving through all three; every situation and individual is unique.
1 Action – physically do something to change the stressful situation. Put a plan into action, and have those difficult conversations you have been putting off. Or break down the problem into achievable tasks; sometimes, seeing things in black and white can take the edge off. Use the tools that work for you. I am partial to a colour-coded flow chart and a well-tuned spreadsheet.
2 Emotions – change your perception. Is this worth me getting upset about? Take the emotion out of it. When certain situations arise in the workplace when you may need to stay objective, not all circumstances are going to a line with our personal values. Pick your battles.
3 Acceptance – letting go of stresses you cannot control and understanding what is yours to carry and what to let go of. Sometimes things are what they are, and we must let them go. If you can’t, I recommend you go back to strategy one. And if you still can’t move forward, accept this is not for you, and now might be a time to reach out to a supervisor or trusted peer for support.
These strategies will not eliminate stress from your working life, but they may give you the tools to start processing and moving through difficult situations.
Elevate Wellbeing’s workshops provide professional, evidence-based information, practical strategies, and resources for you and your organisation. Please get in touch with us here today for further information or to discuss how we can best support and strengthen your team. Or, if you would like to see more content from us, like us on Facebook and LinkedIn.