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How to reduce your stress at work
Excessive workplace stress hurts your health and is counterproductive to your pursuit of success. Unfortunately, an inability to cope with and overcome stress is directly tied to the ability to prosper at work.
The great news is, you are not powerless to manage workplace stress if you focus on what is under your control: you. Think about taking the following steps to maintain a sense of self-control at work.
Less stress from the start
Own it. To boost your emotional and physical health, take responsibility for your physical and emotional well-being. Make it part of your job to maximize health. In that vein, don’t trap yourself. Take the time to identify your own bad habits, negative attitudes and other harmful behaviors that have become second nature. You may find that you are the author of much of your own stress.
Flex your communication muscles. Clarify tasks and goals as needed; don’t guess. When you’re a skilled communicator your relationships with everyone at work will be easier. You will also be more effective.
Be proactive, not reactive. Identify which factors in a stressful situation are under your control. Let go of what isn’t, and excel at what is.
Smart time and task management
Analyze and balance your schedule, including your daily tasks, longer term tasks and responsibilities. Finding a work-life balance is key; failure to do so is a recipe for burning out. When you’ve got the right schedule in place, you can relax appropriately.
Learn to say no, and don’t over-commit yourself. Don’t aim for invincible — amazing is your attainable goal. Back-to-back scheduling throughout your work day is almost never going to work, because unexpected things come up and tasks often take longer than planned. Focus on what must get done. Trim the fatty extras for a lean and purposeful schedule.
Give yourself a time cushion. Leave just fifteen extra minutes in the morning so you don’t start your day feeling rushed and behind. Schedule regular, short breaks and stick to that schedule. Breaks interspersed throughout the day amp up your focus and clear your mind.
Prioritize a list of necessary tasks. Organize larger tasks into manageable chunks, and focus on each one at a time. Ensure that you are striving for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and anchored within a time frame. Tackle the high-priority items first. If one of the tasks is particularly unappealing to you, cross it off ASAP and create a more pleasant and productive rest of your day.
Practice emotional intelligence (EI)
Emotional intelligence (EI) concerns how well you can understand and manage emotions. There are three central elements of great EI: the emotional awareness necessary to identify emotions whether they are yours or someone else’s; the ability to leverage emotions and use them to solve problems and think effectively; and the ability to regulate your own emotions and calm or improve the motions of someone else.
Practicing EI gives you self-confidence and the power to use your emotions constructively and positively. EI allows you to become an influencer and defuse tension, conflict and stress.
To master EI, have enough self-awareness to recognize the ways your emotions shape your decisions; your emotions should be helping you make better decisions, not clouding your judgment. Self-manage to control your behavior and adapt when circumstances change. Hone your social awareness to understand the emotions of your co-workers so you can manage your relationships and interpersonal conflict.
Practicing EI at work includes using your senses to re-energize and calm stressful feelings fast. This means finding which sensory boosts work for you; try listening to calming music, smelling lavender or looking at a photograph of loved ones. Pay attention to body language—including your own. Finally, bring humor to stressful situations when you can, and always seek positive solutions.
Remember, you are the author of your story, and that is not just about pursuing your work, but your mission. Taking charge of yourself changes your story into a positive epic adventure. With smart self-training you will develop healthy behaviors and reduce stress as you boost your level of achievement.