Are you feeling over-worked and stressed? I am sure you are. You’ve got too much work on your plate, deadlines are ominous, people are depending on you, and to top it all off, you still have your personal life to live. You are under so much pressure — so much that most times, you believe that the quality of your work suffers for it.
Just in-case you did not know, this is life of the average worker in the modern workplace. It is almost impossible to be any kind of professional these days and not encounter frequent bouts of intense stress. In other to be successful, you need to know how to manage stress. So, in the spirit of being successful, here are here are nine scientifically proven strategies for defeating stress whenever it strikes.
Having compassion for oneself is not different from having compassion for people around you. I need you to think on what the experience of compassion feels like. Firstly, in other to have compassion for other people, you must perceive that they are in some sort of pain or suffering. Also, having compassion means that you offer understanding and sympathy to others when they fall, fail or make mistakes, rather than jumping into hasty and harsh judgments. Consequently, when you feel true compassion (not pity) for another, it implies that you understand that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human occurrence.
Now, self-compassion simply means acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, when you fail at something or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Self-compassion in essence is cutting yourself some slack. It’s having the ability to look at your mistakes, faults or failures with kindness and understanding — devoid of ruthless criticism or defensiveness.
Studies conducted over the years have shown that people who are self-compassionate are more contented, optimistic, and less apprehensive and miserable. I am sure that’s most likely not surprising. But here’s the surprise: they are more successful, too. Most of us have the preconceived notion in other to perform our best, we need to be hard on that we need to be hard on ourselves, but it turns out that’s 101 percent wrong. A dose of self-compassion when things seems like they couldn’t get any worse can reduce your stress level and improve your general performance, by making it a lot more easier to learn from your mistakes. So always, always remember that: to err is human-and give yourself a break.
Work with the “Big Picture” in mind.
Whenever an activity becomes too tiring or tasking that I am tempted to give up, I always remember the big picture. For instance, my younger sister used to be plus sized thus making her prone to falling ill, the doctor advised that she shed some weight which she did by working out. Now if you understand the dynamics of shedding weight, you’d understand that working to shed weight is no easy feat but whenever she felt like giving up and throwing in the towel she just thought about living a healthy life and that kept her going. She’s happier and healthier now. The relevance of the analogy you’d ask? Thinking Big Picture about the tasks you do every day, can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenge, because you are linking one particular, often small but tasking) action to a greater meaning or purpose. Something that may not seem important or valuable on its own gets cast in a whole new light. So when whenever staying that extra hour at work at the end of an exhausting day is considered of as “helping my career” rather than “answering emails for 60 more minutes,” you’ll be much more likely and a tad more happier to stay put and work hard.
The ten minute rule.
Quick question: If there were anything you could add to your car’s engine, so that after driving from Lagos Mainland to Island, you’d end up with more fuel in your car tank than you started with, wouldn’t you use it? I bet you would. Even though nothing like that exists for your car just yet, I believe there is something you can do for yourself that will have the same effect. Ever heard of the 10-minute-rule? It involves taking ten minutes out of every hour to do something not related to the work on ground. You know, doing something interesting. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it interests you. Indulging in things that interest you doesn’t just keeps you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes lost energy. And then that new energy flows into whatever you do next.
Most importantly, keep these two very significant points in mind: Firstly, ‘interesting’ does not translate to mean the same thing as pleasant, fun, or relaxing (though they are certainly not mutually exclusive.) Taking a lunch break might be relaxing, and if the food is good it will probably be pleasant. But unless I am eating at the hot new restaurant that offers me a wide variety of books to read while I eat, it probably won’t be interesting. So it won’t replenish my energy. Secondly, interesting does not necessarily mean effortless. So if ‘your’ interesting means solving difficult math equations, please be my guest so long as it gives you the desired results.
See your work in terms of progress, not perfection.
People generally approach issues, goals and challenges with one of two mindsets: Be-Awesome mindset (the focus here is on proving that you have a lot of ability or‘AWESOMENESS’ and that you already know what you’re doing). On the other hand, and the Get-Awesome mindset (focuses on developing your ability and learning new skills till you achieve ‘AWESOMENESS’). You can think of it as the difference between wanting to show that you are smart versus wanting to get smarter.
When you have a Be-Awesome mindset, you expect that you should be able to do everything perfectly from the get go, and you constantly (often unconsciously) compare yourself to other people, to see how you “size up.” You speedily start to doubt in your abilities when things don’t go smoothly as planned, and this creates a lot of stress and anxiety. Ironically, worrying about your abilities makes you more prone to failure.
A Get-Awesome mindset, on the other hand, lends itself instead to self-comparison and concerns itself with making progress — how well are you doing today, as compared to how well you did yesterday, last week, or last month? When you think about what you are doing in terms of learning, improving and growing, accepting that you might make some mistakes along the way, you experience far less stress, and you stay motivated despite the setbacks that might occur.
Know your motivation style.
For many of us, it’s hard to stay positive when we are neck-deep in assignments. While for others, it isn’t just hard — it feels wrong. And as it turns out, they are perfectly correct — optimism doesn’t work for some people.
Trying to juggle as many projects and goals as we do is stressful, but we proceed to add a layer of stress without realizing it when we try to achieve these goals using methods that don’t feel right — that don’t work in sync with our own motivational style. So what’s your motivational style, and is “staying positive” right for you?
A quick analogy: Some people think of their jobs in terms of opportunities for success and accomplishment — they have what psychologists call a promotion focus. If I remember my economics clearly, promotion focus is all about maximizing gains and avoiding missed opportunities. On the other hand, for some other people, doing a job well is about security, about not going to bed hungry or not having a roof over their heads, about not losing the positions they’ve worked so hard for. This is what psychologists call the prevention focus and this kind of thinking places emphasis on avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibilities, and doing what you feel you ought to do. In economic terms, it’s about minimizing losses and trying to hang on to what you’ve got.
Getting a clear understanding of promotion and prevention motivation helped me see why people work so differently to achieve basically the same goal. Promotion motivation is eagerness — that drive and desire to really aim for the best and achieve it. That eagerness is sustained and motivated by optimism. Prevention motivation, on the other hand, feels like vigilance — the constant need to keep danger at bay and it is not sustained by optimism, but by a kind of defensive pessimism. In other words, the prevention-minded person actually works best when they think about what might go wrong and what they can lose, and what they can do to keep that from happening.
So, find you’re your motivation style? It’s best to start by identifying your focus, and then embrace either the optimistic outlook or the cheerful skepticism that will reduce your stress and keep you performing at your best.
Observing some or all of these stress fighting methods will help you in more ways than you can imagine. Do you have any other stress management mechanism? Please drop them in the comment box.5 Effective Ways To Kill Stress by Stellamaris Obomanu