Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
Stressed? How does it feel? Constantly in a hurry? Keyed up to the point of disorientation? Can't unwind even at home? Shorter fuse than usual? Forgetting...even more often? Snapping at family and friends? Making hastier decisions, more mistakes?
Too much last minute rush? A certain amount of stress is healthy - it keeps us on our toes. Stress overload happens to all of us some of the time. It's when it becomes the norm that it is a problem.
What stresses you out?
Make a list of typical external factors that cause you stress. Prioritize them in terms of worst to least impact on you. How many of the most impactful ones can you change?
What internal, personal factors contribute to your stress?
- Being generally anxious.
- A worrying type.
- Trying to do too much, not saying ''no'' often enough.
- Not prioritizing, trying to do everything at the last minute.
- Sensitivity to criticism - being too quick to react to flack.
- Excessively high standards, perfectionistic, never feeling I'm good enough.
- Too many personal concerns, hence low tolerance for anything extra.
- Never taking time to relax, unwind or get exercise, eating, drinking too much.
The first point here is that stress is never caused JUST by external factors. The second point is that we cannot often control external events but we can work on how we react to them. A first step is to convince yourself that no person or external event can MAKE you feel anything if you refuse to let it.
Stress Management Tips
Here are three steps for dealing with stress more effectively:
- Address whatever external factors you can influence - change jobs if necessary.
- Become better fit to cope with stress - physical fitness supports mental fitness.
- Change how your react to things - laugh more, distance yourself from them, convince yourself that it's not a matter of life and death, be less serious, lighten up, ensure that you have a good work-life balance, when you see negatives in a situation, discipline yourself to note as many positives as you can.
- Convince yourself and your boss that you can add more value by actually doing less - by switching from mere hard work to working smarter.
- Learn to delegate more and say ''no'' more often. Become more assertive.
- Improve your time management.