Deadlines. A never-ending to-do list. Fears about job security. A work week that’s become more 24/7 than 9 to 5. No wonder so many employees are stressed these days.
And that stress causes problems not only for the individual employee but also for the organization as a whole. “It impacts interpersonal relationships, which impacts team performance,” says Mercidieu Phillips, founder and CEO of Lehigh Acres–based Level Up Coaching & Consulting. “And then that impacts the bottom line of the company.”
Whether it’s a demanding boss or an unreasonable workload that gets your heart racing, you’ll be a better employee if you can learn how to manage your stress. Phillips offers some of his key tips for staying cool, calm and collected at the office.
DEVELOP YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.
Being aware of your emotions will help you understand your trigger points and better control negative situations. It’ll also make you more in tune with your coworkers emotions and recognize when they are feeling stressed out.
“It helps you regulate yourself and read other people around you,” says
Phillips. “People who are successful learn how to develop emotional intelligence.”
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND REACTIONS.
Once you understand the scenarios that cause you anger or anxiety, do what you can to diffuse or avoid them. “An employee has to take responsibility for him- or herself,” says Phillips. “Create moments during the day where you’re not so stressed out, whether that’s taking a 15-minute break or getting up and taking a walk.”
DON’T LET YOUR COWORKERS RAISE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE.
Maybe your peers never pull their weight on team projects or always steal credit for your hard work. Whatever their annoying habits are, you need to keep your focus on yourself.
“If a person stresses you out, you have to learn how not to own other people’s choices or behaviors,” says Phillips. “Because once you own it, it begins to affect you.” Instead of stewing about it, he suggests trying to confront it in a healthy way. That could mean taking the other person out for coffee and calmly discussing the problem with him or her.
TAKE THINGS SLOW.
When it comes to work, everything often seems to move at a breakneck pace. And that go-go-go mentality can definitely amp up the stress levels. That’s why it’s important to stop every now and then.
“It could be something as simple as doing a breathing exercise at your desk or taking a deep breath before going into a tough meeting,” says Phillips. “Close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes or think about a song that makes you feel a certain way. If you’re a spiritual person, pray. Just allow your mind to escape where you’re at right now.”
KNOW WHEN YOU NEED A DIFFERENT OUTLOOK.
There’s a reason why they’re called mental-health days: Sometimes you just need to step away from the stressful situation and do something different for a while.
“When you take a break, I always say to do three things—change place, pace and face,” says Phillips. “Change the people you see and the environment you’re in and slow down.” So a lazy day at the beach with your friends or family might be just the kind of stress reliever you need.
DON’T EXPECT EQUILIBRIUM.
Work-life balance is a nice concept, but Phillips says it’s unrealistic to think you can perfectly align both worlds.
“I teach this concept called harmony,” he says. “We need to harmonize our lives, not balance them. Something is always going to weigh more on the scale.” If you focus instead on how all the parts of your life can coexist and work together, he says, you’ll handle ups and downs better and be able to prioritize tasks from week to week without feeling anxious.
TALK ABOUT WHAT’S CAUSING YOU STRESS.
That could mean raising the issue with your manager and offering some ideas on ways to decrease the stress level of the entire office. Or scheduling a meeting with a coach or counselor who can help you figure out strategies for alleviating your stress. Identifying what’s causing you tension goes a long way toward alleviating it.
“Secrets have power,” says Phillips. “Once it’s out there, it’s no longer powerful because someone knows about it and can hold you accountable.”