We’ve all experienced those days. There are days when you feel like screaming at a colleague, slamming doors, or crushing the Bunn coffeemaker. Sometimes anger is justified. Perhaps the colleague deserved it. Perhaps the door needed to be opened quickly. The Bunn coffee machine was certainly not producing good coffee. But coffee makers that have been crushed and confused colleagues are not the best kind of carnage to leave behind.
Stressing out, blowing off, and walking out in a fit can cause damage to our relationships and jeopardize careers. How can we avoid it?
Project managers, interns, employees, and others can find better ways to manage workplace stress. Here are some actions you can take now.
Anticipate tense events.
Preparing for the difficult situation is the best way to handle a difficult situation. This method is used all the time for your projects. This method allows you to plan, scope, prepare, manage, and complete each task as it comes up.
Do the same for stressful situations. Anticipating stress is a great way to manage it. Begin by identifying people and activities that stress you.
Perhaps it’s the weekly one on one with your boss.
Perhaps it’s when you must leave at 3:00 to pick up your children.
It could be when you experience a constant traffic slowdown on northbound I-85.
No matter what the event, it will be stressful. It’s not pretty.
Knowing that you will face it and that it will be difficult, you must take decisive action. Not to avoid it but to diffuse it.
The first step to easing stress was when you admitted that it would be difficult. This admission alone will give you the mental space to deal with frustrations with clarity.
The next step is to place stress in its proper context: long-term, short term, and personal.
Long-term: How important is this event in the grand scheme? Consider the situation from five years ago and see where it fits in.
Short term: What is your worst-case scenario? What will you do if the worst outcome is possible from the meeting or event?
Personal: How can this event be experienced in an exemplary way? What if someone were to observe you and see that you are stressed?
One of these options is a more concrete way to handle stress before it begins:
Your breathing should be controlled. Take a few deep, slow, slow breaths. Stress can cause us to take shallow, shallow breaths and affect our respiratory system. This type of breathing can be dangerous. Deep, long breathing can reduce stress hormones.
Talk to someone. Talking to a friend about your situation is a great way of preparing. Call your spouse if you are going to a stressful meeting and tell them how you feel.
Pray and meditate. Meditation and prayer have been shown to reduce stress.
Do a short walk before the event. Increase your activity before the event to reduce stress levels. Mild exercise can increase endorphins, which can lower stress levels.
It is impossible to plan for every stressful event in advance. Stress is often unpredictable. For those stressful events, be prepared and conquer.
Ensure you are active during your workday.
A low-stress body is an active body. Clinical trials have shown that even simple activities like walking can produce “calming neurons”.
The body’s response is not always negative to stress. Stress triggers hormones in the bloodstream which call us to generate energy. This energy can manifest as high blood pressure, headaches or anger, and aggression.
Instead of allowing stress to cause harm to our bodies, we can take control by doing simple exercises. Walk in