To help employees more appropriately and effectively manage their stress on the job, Sandra Naiman, author of the recently released book, The High Achiever’s Secret Codebook, encourages employees to try out the following strategies.
Identify your stress style and behaviours.
Most people have a characteristic way of reacting under stress. When in your stress mode, notice how you feel, what you do and what you say. Sometimes it’s difficult to assess this yourself, so consider seeking feedback from a trusted friend or colleague. Once you’ve identified your stress style, have a plan of action ready for the minute you realize you’re about to react from stress.
Remove yourself from the situation.
Find a reason to delay the interaction until you have a chance to recover, think the situation through, and deal with it calmly and constructively. If appropriate, you can say something like, « I don’t think this is the best time to have this discussion. Let’s meet tomorrow morning. »
Take a small break.
In some situations, such as meetings, you’ll be forced to deal with a situation that needs an immediate resolution. Although you cannot totally remove yourself, you can excuse yourself for a moment to go to the restroom. Briefly use that time to take deep breaths, shut your eyes, or visualize a peaceful place to calm yourself.
Speak slowly and softly.
When you are stressed, your own behaviour can cue your body to relax. Therefore, deliberately lower your voice and speak slowly and deliberately. If you feel angry statements forming, do not speak at all. If you are on the phone, simply announce to the other person, « I’m still here; I’m just thinking. »
Don’t let things build up.
Learn to truly tolerate and overlook what you can, but remember that if a major issue has caused you stress at work, there is a good chance it will cause you to be stressed again. If you wait until you reach your limit to deal with it, your reaction is sure to be disproportionate to the incident that sparked it.