Handling Stress in the Workplace
DIY Sprocket Solutions
This article has been updated on 3/16/2021 with the article entitled “Stressed at Work? Tips to Handle the Strain BEFORE You Explode.”
Listen, we've all been there. Running around like a crazy person putting out fire after fire, hopping from one project to the next, and spreading ourselves way too thin to feel like we're actually accomplishing any task successfully from start to finish. If every day is turning into a crisis in the workplace, you've got to take a step back and re-evaluate. It's time to take a look around and see what you can tweak, adjust, cut out, start doing differently, etc. to turn your hours of work chaos into meaningful time spent that doesn't leave you wiped.
So, where to start? Well, I have a few tips to get you redirected and maybe a little refreshed. We all need to reboot once in awhile. We don't need anyone's head to actually explode.
-Evaluate what projects you're working on and prioritize them. Yes, you may have 16 projects due at the end of this month but perhaps only 5 are due this week. Worry about what needs to be worried about in this moment. If there are things that you should be getting prepared for projects with later due dates, then by all means -prepare them- but don't kill yourself worrying about what you need to be worrying about in 2 weeks. Give yourself a break.
-Once you've made that list, decide if you need help. Although you might look great in blue spandex, you're not Superman. Hang up that red cape for a minute. It's okay to ask for help. Sometimes when you feel like you're drowning -all you really need is one hand to reach down and pull you up a couple of inches. Running a one person show? Call in a favor, phone a friend, ask your neighbor to come make some phone calls. Whatever. Get help when you need it and offer it when you can.
-Breathe. No, seriously. Inhale and then exhale. Take time out of your pull-your-hair-out-migraine-ripping-through-your-forehead-exhaustion-inducing day and just breathe for a minute. Look out the window and watch a bird land on a tree. Just take a minute, regroup, and move forward.
-Make sure the lines of communication are open. There's nothing more frustrating than wasting precious time, effort, and mental capacity on a project that you have unclear instructions on/was already completed by someone else/is no longer a priority etc. Make sure you are communicating effectively with colleagues and management to be sure that you're spending your time in the best way possible.
-Delegate. Remember when we talked about asking for help? This is jumping right on that same boat people. If you're in a position to, then delegate when you can. Learn how to delegate intelligently. Figure out where YOUR time is best spent -and then spend it there.
-Take care of you. Go to sleep. A good night's sleep cures most major ailments. Including mind-crushing stress. Get to bed early, take a shower, eat a good breakfast, breathe, and take care of you. Head into work refreshed and ready to jump back into battle.
-Know your limits. I'm talking to you, people pleasers of the world. You have to learn when to say no (nicely). If you're already buried and someone asks if they can drop a brick on your head, politely decline. When you're spread too thin then your work gets sloppy. Instead of having 3 projects that you totally nail you have 8 projects that you barely scratch the surface of. Learn how to communicate this concept and let people know when you've hit your current limit. You're only one person.
-Keep the negativity out. Talking about how much something sucks (over and over and over again) only makes it suck more. It makes it seem less possible to accomplish whatever you need to get done. Keep a positive mentality and muscle through it. Use the negative energy and redirect it.
-Lighten things up. Take a minute to laugh it off, head out to lunch, shake things up. If you can't take the stress for another second, it's okay. Take an hour to regroup and get your head back on.
-Organize your day. Every morning, make a list of the things you want (and are possible) to accomplish that day. Cross those things off as you finish them. It feels great to cross another item off the list. If you don't finish all your tasks, keep that in mind the next morning when you make your new list. Always plan for a fire that you might need to put out. Carve extra time into your schedule for this. No fires today? Great, then you can get a jump start on tomorrow; but, at least you had the time set aside already.
-Let it go. You have to learn to let things go. You're not going to cross everything off your list every day. There are going to be issues that arise. You have to understand that that is part of life and it's part of business. It's not the end of the world; it's not the end of your world. Don't stress about what you can't change. Leave work at work. Know that tomorrow will be another day for you to catch up.
Do you have any de-stressing tips that you use to keep your workday crisis free? Share below. And also, share this article with any employee/chicken-with-their-head-cut-off you might know.