Whether you are working from the office or telecommuting, we can all agree we are experiencing some crazy times. With the constant changing circumstances of office life, working from home with the chaos of the family around you, or alone all day, we are all experiencing more stress than normal. Not to mention the stock market, our retirement plans, the reopening of the country…the list goes on.
The verdict is still out on when the end of this will come for most of us. I believe what we will find when it does finally all comes to an end is that we did weather the storm and survived it, despite experiencing significant unknowns and higher than normal levels of stress.
Like it or not, work-related stress is a recurring theme, especially during difficult times. To help you keep your sanity, the following are some tips on how to handle and thrive during these stressful times:
1 – Take Care of Yourself
Some stress is good. It can energize you and motivate you to achieve goals in areas that are important to you. However, prolonged stress will reduce your coping ability and, over time, lead to burnout which can impact your health.
As you all know, it is important to take care of your health. Most people create health related new years resolution. If you did, now would be a good time to revisit your resolution and check your progress. Are you still:
- Eating in moderation, and the right kinds of food?
- Moving – walking, biking, exercising or doing any other form of aerobic activity?
- Getting enough sleep?
- Drinking in moderation or not at all?
If you don’t take good care of yourself physically, it’s easy for the everyday stressors to beat up on you in your less-than-optimal state of well-being. You can start a resolution any day, it doesn’t need to be the New Year. Mark your calendar for today to start taking care of your physical state.
2 – Identify Your Stressors
Sometimes it’s not the major events in your life that cause your stress, but the accumulated effect of all the little stressors ganging up on you. When you start feeling stressed, declare a time out. Step back and analyze where the stress is originating. Write down what’s pushing you to the brink… a difficult customer or co-worker, unrealistic deadlines, unclear priorities, no clear home-work space, or any other situation that raises your stress levels.
Once identified, tackle the most significant stressor. In many situations, you can’t change the stressor, but you can control how you react to it. You may also be able to change some aspect or factor that will allow the stressor to be more tolerable, or have less impact on you.
3 – Leave Work at Work
We live in an ever-connected world. It is possible to work all hours of the day, and night. With a lot of people still working from home, this can compound the blurred lines of work/life balance even more. Don’t. Figure out a way to turn off, tune out and leave work at work. This may require better organization, scheduling breaks to handle home items, getting up earlier in the morning to get more done earlier in the day, or occasionally, just saying no to a request that’s going to add more to your already overflowing list of responsibilities.
While we’re on the topic of leaving work at work, don’t email coworkers late at night or early in the morning . . . this adds to their stress levels – and if you are a manager emailing your staff, this sets an unrealistic expectation for your staff to follow your lead.
4 – Work Smarter, not Longer
You already know this, but those who leave the office last each day are not necessarily the most productive contributors. Make it a habit to leave on time by working smarter. Is your to-do list up-to-date and prioritized? Have you identified your most productive working hours and blocked them off for focused, uninterrupted work? Can you account for what you have accomplished and how much time it took to complete the task? You’ll never truly take control of your time until you can identify where it’s all going.
Remember, each of us are gifted with the exact same amount of time daily . . . 1440 minutes, to be exact. Make sure those minutes don’t get away from you, because you really can’t save time, make time, or find time.
5 – End Bad Habits
Sometimes, we add to our own stress levels.
- Say no to perfectionism. Sometimes good enough works just fine.
- Avoid complicated, unhealthy relationships – life is short. When you have a choice, hang out with happy, optimistic people.
- Put things away in the right place, every time, so that you don’t waste time looking for something lost.
- Go for what you want, not what you don’t want. Worry less. Focus on the positive in any situation. Don’t lose your positive vision of things turning out really well.
- Worry more about what you can control and less about what you can’t control. For reinforcement, think about all the things you’ve worried about in the past that never amounted to much of anything.
6 – Ask for Help
We are social beings. We were not intended to fight the battle alone. Working from home and the lack of social interaction adds stress. When you need help, ask for it. Whether it is just to connect with another person and chat, or to gain help on a project. There are so many options to connect with people: zoom, face time, MS Teams, Skype and even the good old phone call. Connect with people who are supportive, caring and understand your stressors. Talk over the challenges with them. Most people like to help. A supportive network of caring friends, family members, and co-workers can help you put your stressors into perspective.
7 – Laugh More
Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh more. Laughter is great therapy for stress reduction. When things seem to be closing in and stress levels are rising, choose humor. Remember, this too shall pass.
No one is suggesting that workplace stressors are going away. But, you can take control of how you react to the everyday stressors. Use the tips we’ve shared to put things into perspective and keep your stress levels healthy for your optimal health and performance. Remember, you only get one shot at this thing called life, so make the most of it.