Stress is Self-Inflicted

Yes, I’ve been known to say that from time to time.  The effects of stress are well known: harmful health impacts, poor decision-making, lack of decision-making, strained relationships, inefficiency, etc., etc.  In addition, stress has a way of making work more like “work.”  So, what is the remedy to stress?  Is stress really self-inflicted?

Here are a few hints that I’ve gathered over the last three or more decades about dealing with stress in the workplace.  And, keep in mind that I am not typically a nonchalant individual.  My mother used to call me hyperactive (a term that had not even been invented yet).  My wife used to say that I started getting worked up at the 4th of July before a road trip we planned for the winter.  So, let’s just say that I’ve learned a thing or two over the years.  This is my list of things that can help deal with stress:

  1. Don’t speculate – Stop and get the facts.  Sometimes, the issues that are causing our stress are really not all that serious, but we can’t slow down long enough to really consider the facts.  Is the situation real?  What is the worst-case scenario?  Is it truly a risk?  Get the real facts and deal with it with composure.
  2. Keep a proper perspective – Understand the relationship between things I control and things I cannot control.  We often stress most over those things we have no control over.  If we can get ourselves to focus on what we can control, we have a better chance of dealing with it and making better decisions.
  3. Prioritize – Decide what is most important.  We sometimes get stressed simply because of the workload or myriad of things hitting us at once.  If we can work on the most important first and get that handled, it may help relieve our overall stress level.
  4. Err on the side of action – Whether you choose to do the hard things first or easy things first, just do something!  Don’t become paralyzed with inaction.  Get up and get going!
  5. Prepare – Making a list often has a soothing effect on me.  Putting things down in black and white so that I can see the list often helps me see more clearly what to tackle, how big the task is, and which things come first.
  6. Delegate – Have someone else do it.  We often try to take on too much ourselves and, as a result, pile on the stress.  Allowing someone else to take on some activities can both help them and us be removing items from our list.
  7. Consider the what if’s – Consider alternatives and contingencies.  If there is something truly significant that is causing stress in our lives, it often helps to look at ways around the problem or at least to plan for the impacts that will occur to us.
  8. Diversions – Music, chocolate, take a walk, pet the dog, watch a movie.  Sometimes, enjoying an activity like this can help clear our mind and allow us to make better decisions around the problems we face.
  9. Share the burden – Talk it over with someone else.  Often, it helps to take our burdens and at least voice them to someone else.  The other person may actually be able to offer suggestions or support that will help us face the issues.
  10. Prepare to learn – Look for the lessons.  Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to know that what we learn may help someone else in the future.  This is called experience.  The things we experience can help us with similar events in the future or they can allow us to help someone else when they face future issues.

That’s it… stress-free in ten easy points.  Yes, this is easier said than done.  However, you might pick something up from this list that can help the next time you find yourself up to your ears in problems.


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