How to get stress to work with you and not against you

David Price – CEO of Health Assured

July 14 2016

Stress can be a completely normal and natural part of life. We all experience some degree of stress at work, often attributed to an impending deadline, but generally this is short-lived. In these types of situations, feeling anxious or stressed may feel uncomfortable but if directed in a positive way can actually motivate and increase your productivity levels. The important thing to remember is that whilst short-term stress may be beneficial, it will only continue to be this way if you learn to recognise when you are stressed and how to channel it in a healthy way. So how can you harness your stress to help you remain on top of things? Below are just a few suggestions. Look towards others It’s often easy to feel completely isolated by our stress, forgetting that in reality, particularly within the workplace that others are probably experiencing the same or similar issues. Stress and anxiety feeds on these feelings of isolation, so instead of internalising your worries, share them. Try seeking advice from your colleagues on how they deal with stressful situations. They may not always have the answers, but a problem shared is a problem halved. Sometimes the simple act of having someone listen to you, whether advice is offered or not can help minimise stressful and anxious feelings. Reflect, don’t dwell When things don’t go exactly the way you planned, for example a pitch you have given at work wasn’t successful, this can cause a sudden increase in stress. When this happens, you may find yourself focussing on everything that went wrong. Whilst it is important to understand how to improve upon our mistakes or failures, it is also important reflect on the positive, including what you have learned from the situation. Experiencing failure is not a sign of personal weakness, but an opportunity to reflect and grow. If you adhere to this mind-set it will help you in two ways. Firstly, in the short-term it will help alleviate some of those immediate stressful feelings. Secondly, it will provide you with a set of tools and a method to handle similar situations in the future. Create achievable goals When faced with a daunting situation, for example a major project that has a fast turnaround, our first reaction may be to become weighed down by the scale of the job. At this point it is important to fight the feelings of being overwhelmed by centring yourself and focussing your thoughts on the task at hand. Rather than looking at the size of the project itself, consider breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Create an action plan that lays down the different tasks you need to complete and by when, then you can focus on the satisfaction you get when you complete each your tasks and check them off your list. This will not only help you feel more happy and confident, but it will also boost your productivity levels. Finding a balance This can be easier said than done, but nonetheless an important part of harnessing your stress. Sitting at your desk all day staring at a computer screen can be stressful in itself. Not to mention that it will also stifle creativity. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed at work, take some time away from your desk by going on a small walk or step outside to get some fresh air. Your mind needs to take a break, so with that in mind it is important that you make the most of your lunch break. This means stepping away from your desk and workload to enjoy a bit of down time with your colleagues, whilst replenishing your body with nutrition to help you take on the rest of your day. Outside of the office, to alleviate stress, it is important to participate in some form of physical or mental activity that draws your attention away from feeling stressed. This can be anything from running and swimming to gardening and doing a crossword.          

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