Stress at work is dangerous. Seriously. I believe it leads to medical issues, and it certainly will harm your relationships and overall quality of life. Over the years I have seen people reduced to highly destructive and antisocial behavior as a result of the stress they feel at work, as they fight to achieve targets, deal with major disappointments, and cope with rude clients. Drinking too much. Drug abuse. Anger directed at colleagues. Wild mood swings. Dishonest dealings. Depression. Rapid weight gain or loss. All unfortunate. All harmful. But what can you do about it? Pressure and stress is part of what we do. It’s not going to go away. The reality is we need to learn to cope. Have some releases that ease the pressure and redress the balance. Here are a few things I recommend, when it comes to battling the stress tsunami.
1. Have a good cry.
Seriously. Or, once the phone is put down, let off some steam. As long as it’s not directed at a colleague. As long as it’s quick. As long as you bounce back fast, it’s okay! In fact, given our jobs, it would be weird not to melt down occasionally. I was not much of a crier myself, but when things went seriously wrong it was not unknown for me to let slip a few choice expletives, punch the desk, bang my head on the wall. It’s okay. Let it go. You will feel better afterward. But then… move on!
2. Get perspective.
Breathe. Again, I am serious. Push back from your desk. Suck in the big ones. Deliberately and consciously shift your thinking. Dump the negatives. "It will go well," not, "It’s all going down the gurgler." I believe in PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). And I also believe that we can control how we react to situations. Jump off the stress treadmill. Take a chill pill. Recalibrate your attitude. Whatever crappy thing just happened, it’s not that serious.
3. Recognise the warning signs.
This is simple but big. If stress is building and you can see it’s getting worse, sometimes discretion is the greater part of valour. Take evasive action. Avoid that irritating client call. Stop making sales calls for an hour where you are getting nowhere with rude clients, and call 10 of your best customers instead. They will be pleased to hear from you, and that will cheer you up right there! Leave the office early. You can make it up tomorrow. Call someone who will cheer you up.
4. Set an achievable goal.
One you can get and that will make you feel good. This is key. A massive sea of work is piling up all around you. You can see no way you can get it done. Every call you take seems to pile more and more on you. The "to do" list is getting ever longer. So here is the trick. Cross everything on the "to do" list out except the top 3 big, hairy important things that must get done. Forget the rest. You were not going to get to them anyway, were you? Scratch them out and get the big three to five things done. Then go home. Successful.
5. Sweat a little.
This is my most personal tip. I reckon exercise reduces stress exponentially. In fact, I have gym sessions in my diary a month ahead of time – three or four a week – and I don’t change them for anybody (unless my wife tells me to, obviously). And I go in the middle of the day. Just around the corner from my office. It suits me because I work long hours and it does not really matter when I take the break, as long as I take it. For you it might be different, but if you feel the stress building, don’t hit the grog or buy that burger to give you the comfort you crave. Run, gym, bike or even just take a swift walk. For me it’s a lifesaver. Someone even told me that if they have a difficult meeting with me, they try to arrange it after my gym session, because, inevitably, I am "much calmer." Work often means stress, and it never fully goes away, no matter how good you are. You have to manage it. Hope these tips help you! This post originally appeared on The Savage Truth.