We’re all doing more with less. If you have steady employment you’re probably doing more for the same money before the purse-tightening we’ve seen in the economy over the last five years. If you work for yourself, clients are probably taking longer to pay and putting your prices and deadlines under thumbscrews.
None of which is helping ever-escalating stress levels.
A dictionary defines stress as ‘a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances’, and the next time you feel your shoulders tighten at the next impossible deadline, surprise bill or late night in front of the computer, the definition feels all too real.
The good news is that stress is more manageable than you think. All it takes is a little time and honesty with yourself. Make eliminating or reducing stress a project – maybe your most important one – and you’ll be surprised how fast you can overcome it.
Some health and workplace experts promote the idea of keeping a stress diary. Recording details of stressful events and how you handled them can reveal a lot about your personal stress ‘profile’.
The idea is to note down things like:
- The event that caused you stress.
- How you felt? (emotionally, physically, etc.)
- How you acted in response? (anger, depression, etc.)
- How you coped – if at all? (avoidance, panic).
Create your own stress diary to identify the issues, and help you understand the information you need to get out of it.
Because here’s another surprise; how you coped or reacted to stress might be most of the problem. In fact it will reveal the biggest secret when it comes to handling stress. There’s a lot in our lives we can’t control, but the one thing we can is how we act.
If your method of coping with adversity is counterproductive, antisocial or disrespectful to yourself or others, a stress diary might tell you all you need to know.
The world around you
Of course, there’s a lot going on around you to cause stress, and while you can’t control the world, you can certainly recalibrate the way you receive and deal with it.
Here are a few tips we’ve learned at M.B. Secretarial Services over the years:
- Learn to say no
The many individual people asking you to just do one thing aren’t responsible for how much you take on – they’re only asking you to do one thing.
The only thing to control how much you have to do is your power to learn that most powerful of words; ‘no’.
Of course it’s not that easy in the workplace, but you should have a boss who’s receptive if you ask to talk about an unmanageable workload. If you don’t, maybe it’s time for a new job.
- Make lists
We’re big fans of lists here at M.B. Secretarial Services. They help you prioritise and distinguish between the ‘musts’ and the ‘shoulds’ and remove that awful brain-scrambling feeling of having too much to do and no idea where to start.
- Don’t forget the rest of you
It’s tempting to rush meals, skip sleep and suspend your social life, but the repose, refocus and health they bring are all essential for productivity in the rest of your life.
- Put yourself first
Sure, you’re surrounded by demands. But do they need to be so demanding? Do you have to drive the kids from one activity to another or can they be a little bit self-sufficient for a while?
Talk to your boss about a temporary reprieve to do the important tasks better.
And any spouse or partner worth their salt will understand if you sit them down and explain that you need a little space, time and understanding to work on putting stress behind you.
Everyone will thank you for it, from kids to co-workers, and especially yourself.