Stressed Up and No Place to Go?
Tips on Reducing
Stress at Work
There you are – stuck in another meeting. Everyone has a glazed look
in their eyes because the meeting has gone completely off-track. The
meeting is already running late and you begin to worry about your next
appointment. Your face feels hot, your right temple starts to throb.
Just then, a co-worker asks another unnecessary question. Now you know
it’s going to be at least another 20 minutes before you can leave.
You sigh in exasperation. “My day is ruined,” your internal voice
And it may be. Stress can do that. As
a matter of fact, stress can ruin your whole life.
Stress is an internal response to an external event. If you
don’t learn to control the stresses in your life in a positive way,
your mental and physical health will suffer.
In the above example, the runaway meeting is the external
event, and all your responses are the stresses you feel.
Since the externals seldom change, how do you change your
At WAR With Yourself: Let’s
use the overly long meeting as an example.
Stress is caused by resisting what’s going on. When we
encounter a runaway meeting, an annoying co-worker or an uncomfortable
situation, we respond with three emotions: worry, anger and
Notice the first three letters of those words describe the stress
response perfectly: WAR -- the war within you. If you look at your
stress event, you will find that the worry, anger and resentment are
not caused by the runaway meeting. The meeting is merely the trigger
that sets off those three emotions. The WAR within you is really a war
with yourself. Let’s
look at what the true causes may be.
about being late. Do you fear that if you’re late, there will be
reprisals or punishment? Worrying
is never going to bring a solution.
As soon as you begin to feel worry, you know it’s time to
start thinking of a solution.
You feel Anger
at the co-worker who asked another unnecessary question. Is your
anger related to the fact that not everyone is as prepared as you
are? Do you feel that others are taking up your time learning what
they should have already known? This anger doesn’t take into
consideration the fact that people learn at different rates or
have differing amounts of time to study.
If you sit back and listen to the answer, chances are that,
from time to time, you will find out that you didn’t know the
answer after all and that by letting someone else ask the question
no one will ever know of your ignorance.
You feel Resentment
toward the people who don’t know how to conduct a proper meeting
or who have nothing better to do than sit in a meeting. Are you
often impatient with people who don’t do things exactly as you
do? Well, people seldom will. Use what you consider to be their
weak points to strengthen your own activities. Learn what others
are doing wrong, and then don’t do it.
The Pause That De-stresses: How can we learn to stop fuming and seething and become the person who
calmly sits through the meeting? Remember,
stress is caused by resisting what’s going on.. But there is another
way to react: Accept. I don’t mean, “Oh goody, I’m going to be
late to my next appointment!” I mean, “Ah, a meeting that’s
going to run late. That’s one of the things that drive me crazy and
here it is.” Use humor to accept. Once you accept a situation, you
can act upon it. When you’re busy resisting, you’re paralyzed.
When you accept, you can push your internal pause button. You can pause
while you decide what course of action to take. Use your pause button
to gain control over an automatic stress response. Ask, “Are any of
my stress reactions going to help me get what I want?” Of course,
the answer is no. So, what can you do instead?
There are three alternative actions: adapt, alter or avoid. For the
“runaway meeting” example, you can eliminate the third one right
away –“avoid.” Unless you are the CEO, you can hardly avoid
meetings that run late.
adapting yourself to the situation. Listen to what’s going on in the
meeting and see if there is anything you can contribute or gain. If
you can get past your resentment at being there, this may turn out to
be a perfect time for you to come up with a solution to something that
will make you shine.
changing the situation. Find a way to steer the meeting, even if
you’re not the one in charge. Rather than sit and fume about how you
will be late to your next appointment, make an effort to bring the
meeting back to focus and win the approval of your boss at the same
Regardless of the situation, you have the choice to resist or accept.
Resisting leads to stress and accepting leads to bliss. By
reducing your stress at work, you’ll be able to focus on the more
important things, such as improving your productivity and creativity.
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