Mental Strategies to Manage Stress
Today’s workforce is experiencing job burnout and stress in epidemic proportions. Workers at all levels feel stressed out, insecure and misunderstood. Many people feel the demands of the workplace, combined with the demands of home, have become too much to handle.
There are some general strategies that we can use to manage and cope with stress. This post suggests general and specific mental stress management strategies that people can use every day.
These three factors impact our ability to manage stress:
- Nature of organisation
- Quality of support
Which of these three can we influence?
It’s true that we can’t change our personality, although we certainly have influence over ourselves and we can make some small changes by making different choices. For example, if we are very impatient with other people, we can learn to be a little more patient with them. Impatient people can alienate others, and they run the risk of having very small social circles. Learning some tactics to curb our impatience could improve our lives tremendously.
Nature of Organisation
We can’t change the organisation we work for, either, unless we own it, but we can influence the mood and atmosphere there. If the stress is unbearable and we cannot exert the influence we’d like, we can also change jobs. That is a drastic measure. However, assess what makes your workplace such a toxic environment. Is it the work or is it the people? Can the stress be partly attributed to your reaction to what is happening? If your workplace is truly too demanding, then save yourself and find another place to work.
However, if you are stressed out because nobody has ever told you what is expected of you, then talk to your line manager. If you feel like you need more training to do your job, ask for it. Perhaps you can find a mentor or a buddy, or perhaps your company will send you on some external training. Zing 365 has some excellent courses to cover many areas to support you in the workplace.
Quality of Support
One thing we can always change is the nature of the supportive relationships we have. This can be done in very strategic ways, even though they may require that you function outside your comfort zone.
- We can develop relationships at work, socially, and at home.
- We can reach out more often to both friends and family.
- We can strengthen relationships. To do this, we can ask for and offer help.
- Keep in mind that relationships are reciprocal so be a better friend or supporter yourself, and develop a wider circle of support.
The ‘Triple-A’ Approach
Choosing an approach that works for you means that you are accepting the role you play in managing your own stress. When we have situations that cause our stress levels to rise, there is a choice-based approach that we can apply to almost everything. We can alter or change the situation, figure out how to avoid the situation, or accept the situation and alter our response to it.
Sometimes this is the most promising strategy. Let’s say you are always stressed when you are going to be late for a meeting. Change the situation by setting an alarm, so you will leave five or ten minutes earlier than you usually do. Write the appointment down with a 15-minute cushion. For example, if you have a meeting that starts at 2:30 p.m., and it is in the building next door which is a 10-minute walk, make sure that you write the walking time into your appointment calendar. And make sure that you don’t accept a meeting invitation that will take you right up to 2:30 p.m.
A person that annoys you or causes you stress may be somebody you can avoid altogether. Don’t get drawn into a conversation with them, and if they try to talk with you, let them know you have somewhere else to be. If cheese gives you a migraine, avoid it. If your car needs maintenance before it falls apart, avoid calamity by getting it looked after. Forcing ourselves into situations that contribute to our stress, when we really don’t have to be in those situations at all, is masochistic.
There are some things in life, like taxes, which are unavoidable so we may as well accept these situations with good grace. Being grateful that you make enough money to pay taxes puts the annoyance of taxes into another light. There are plenty of things that annoy people that others simply accept. Let’s say going to the dentist makes you stressed. Accept that and deal with it accordingly. Play music before you go or do some meditation. Let your dentist know how you are feeling, and let them reassure you that they treat all their patients as if they don’t want to be there and have set up their practice to make you as comfortable as possible. If that’s still not helping, remind yourself that dental health is linked to heart health, and accept the benefits of what you are doing.