Stressed? Finding it hard to cope? Unfortunately, this is becoming the norm.
In a recent survey conducted by ACQYR, almost four in five people felt inadequately trained to cope with stress. Respondents felt that their organizations weren’t providing sufficient training and tools to effectively manage increasing stress levels.
The good news is that you’re not broken. You’re fully competent and capable, but you may be negatively handicapping yourself without realizing it. If you focus on your inability to manage your stress, you’re actually ignoring the things you can do and the strengths and talents you do have. By boosting your confidence, you’re actually telling yourself, “Yes! I can manage the stress in my life!” But before you set out to change your entire life, let’s start with a single workday.
Before the Day Begins: Start Strong
Give your body and mind the fuel they need to get the day started, and that means quality sleep and a healthy breakfast. If you’re tired before setting foot in the office, you won’t be able to cope with the rest of the day.
It sounds simple enough, yet you may forget that each day is interconnected. The decisions you make tonight will directly affect how you feel tomorrow morning. For example, eating and sleeping well tomorrow requires you to plan your meals and bedtime tonight. So that extra hour watching late night television may seem like a great idea, but it may affect your attitude, energy, and motivation tomorrow.
9:00 a.m.: Manage the Easy First
The day has just begun, but you’re already stressed. It’s easy to be overwhelmed in anticipation of a busy day, except nothing positive is accomplished by worrying. Don’t focus on the challenges; instead, start moving, and allow momentum to build.
Strive to tackle the smallest tasks first. Each action you take, however small, will build momentum and move you one step closer to accomplishing your overall goal.
10:00 a.m.: Find Something to Anticipate
Working constantly without any other mental stimulation is draining. This is where you need to have something to get you–and keep you–motivated. For example, you might want to pack an extra special snack or lunch, or perhaps you can plan a dinner date. By infusing some excitement into your day, you will have a positive reward to work toward.
11:00 a.m.: Recharge Your Batteries
Take a moment to rejuvenate your body and mind. It may seem unproductive to take a break with lots on your plate, but it will help you absorb more information and allow you to work more effectively on your return.
You can take a ten-minute walk for some fresh air or play a brain puzzle like Sudoku. The goal is to allow your mind to see something other than the stacks of papers, e-mails, or phone calls that demand your attention.
12:00 p.m.: Refuel Your Body
Lunch is about relaxing, reflecting, and refueling. While your mind affects your body, the nourishment of your body affects the state of your mind. Eating a healthy lunch will give you the energy you need to think and act.
There are enough distractions and problems that pull you away from enjoying your day, so the least you can do is ensure that your body has the fuel it needs to handle whatever comes your way. If you don’t eat well, you can’t expect to be well equipped to manage your stress.
1:00 p.m.: Take an Observable First Step
As you begin your afternoon, you may need to rebuild momentum by seeing yourself make positive progress.
When you take an observable and positive step, your progress will inspire you to continue. By using stress as a motivator, you’ll be driven to solve any problem that comes your way to finish what you started. You will work harder and smarter, not because you have to, but because you are seeing results and you want to continue.
2:00 p.m.: Switch Gears
If you become easily distracted, it’s a sign that you need to switch gears.
Your brain needs a variety of things to do, so you might want to shift your attention to another task that requires a different thinking process or skill. This will help prevent boredom and keep your mind sharp and active.
Don’t get caught up on a single task or let the frustration of a small problem turn into a big deal. Keep moving instead.
3:00 p.m.: Rechannel Your Energy
It’s challenging to remain focused when conflict, stress, or your workload begins to eat away at your patience and confidence. Stop wasting precious energy feeling anxious, angry, scared, or worried, and certainly don’t waste your energy fighting fruitless battles with others.
Rechannel your energy into useful and productive thoughts and actions. For example, when you pray, meditate, journal, or reflect, you will refocus your mind and rechannel your negative energy into seeking peace and discovering solutions.
4:00 p.m.: Anticipate the Big Push at the End
With last minute deadlines, meetings, or calls, the day never seems to end. Try to anticipate the additional stress as you approach the end of the day. When you do, you’ll be able to lighten your load and mentally prepare yourself.
Don’t expect that all will go without a hitch, either. There will be challenges and loose ends to tie, but don’t worry, things tend to work out whether you’re stressed out or not, so why add unnecessary pressure on yourself?
5:00 p.m.: Focus on What You Did Accomplish
You’ve made it through a stressful day, so it’s time to celebrate! It may seem like you have nothing to show after a long and grueling day, but that’s not true. Focus on what you did, not what you have yet to do. You will never run out of things to do, so don’t wait for the perfect time to bask in your own glory.
By recognizing and celebrating your accomplishments, you’re giving yourself that extra spark for the rest of the week.
At the End of the Day: Leave Work (and Thoughts of It) at Work
Your life is stressful enough as it is, and if you never escape from the job–both mentally and physically–you’ll burn out fast.
Stress is also contagious. Bringing your work baggage home with you will put your family and friends at risk of carrying your stress burden. Be aware of your tone and body language so your loved ones don’t feel like they need to tiptoe around you. Besides, when you enjoy your time away from the office, you’ll feel refreshed and more productive on your return.
As the cycle repeats each day, ensure that you’re proactively managing your stress. Seeking professional advice may also help to keep you on track through customized stress management plans and dedicated support.
Most of all, remember that you’re fully competent and capable of managing your stress.
A Little Black Pen