According to an American Psychological Association Stress In America Survey, job stress is one of top causes of stress for American adults.
Unfortunately, most of the methods that mental health experts recommend for managing stress — like exercise, meditation and yoga — just can’t be done in most workplaces. So you need to have some alternative methods you can use on the fly, while your stress levels rise, and nobody knows your using them.
Here are five methods for managing stress at work that all fit this description:
- Cognitive restructuring. Most people don’t realize what a big role their own thinking plays in creating stress. When your boss asks you to work late on a Friday night and you say to yourself: That jerk is ALWAYS asking me to work late, this kind reaction greatly adds to your stress. Start to notice your inner dialogue and quickly learn to evaluate it. If it isn’t 100 percent accurate, restate it in a more accurate way: My boss doesn’t always ask me to work late. Last week he let me go home early when I wasn’t feeling well.
- Take three deep breaths. When your stress response has been triggered, deep breathing can activate the relaxation response.
- Let it go. If something or someone bothers you at work, just decide — for your own benefit — to let it go. Let’s say your boss, for the most part, is fair with you and your co-workers. But on this one occasion, he or she says something that’s out of line. When that happens give your boss a free pass. Assume he or she didn’t mean to put it that way and let it go. You’ll be the one to benefit: holding a grudge can be poisonous. Don’t do it.
- Use humor. The next time something really stressful happens to you, see how quickly you can turn the pain into a funny anecdote. If it normally takes you a few hours to put a stressful event in perspective, see if you can cut that time in half.
- Put the problem aside and come back to it later. Let’s say you’re having difficulty with a project you’re working on. At a certain point your frustration becomes so great you find it’s difficult to even think clearly. When that happens, put the project aside for awhile and start on something else. This works especially well for problems that come up at the end of the day, and can wait until the next morning to be resolved. If you have this option, take it. Go home, have a relaxing evening, don’t think about the problem at all, and you’ll almost always be amazed at the creative solutions you come up with the next morning, when you’re refreshed.
— James Porter, president of StressStop.com