The ability to deal with emotions and to remain calm under pressure translates into our results. Stress can literally eat us up. Research has shown that prolonged stress stress damages the part of the brain that is responsible for self-control. The trick is that, despite its destructive power, we also need stress. It is thanks to him that we are able to mobilize ourselves to act. When we don’t feel at least a minimal amount of stress, it’s hard for us to act. People tend to achieve their best results when stress levels are optimal. So where is the limit that should not be exceeded? How to deal with excess stress at work?
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Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that during the early stages of stress, the brain produces new cells to improve memory. It only happens when stress is sporadic. In situations of long-term stress, the brain’s ability to produce new cells is suppressed.
Increased risk of heart disease, depression, obesity, decreased productivity – these are some of the negative effects of prolonged exposure to stress. Fortunately, most stressful situations are subjective and you can take control of them. There are techniques for dealing with stress.
Here are some examples from Travis Bradberry that can help you reduce your daily stress levels.
1. Appreciate what you have
Taking time to reflect on what we are grateful for in life is essential. This exercise also improves your mood as it lowers the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Researchers from the University of Davis found that people who exhibit this attitude every day have a better mood, more energy and feel better physically.
2. Avoid “begging”
“What could be?” Asking yourself this theoretical question can only fuel the fire. Each situation can play out in thousands of different scenarios, so the more time you spend thinking about them, the less time you spend taking real action.
3. Stay positive
Positive thoughts help combat the initial stages of stress because they focus the brain’s attention on something stress-free. Help your brain by consciously selecting positive thoughts (any positive thought is suitable for this). It is easier when all is going well. Conversely, when difficulties arise on our way, our minds are flooded with negative thoughts, and it is much harder for us to concentrate on the positives. The easy exercise in such situations is to think about our day and choose one positive event from it – no matter how banal. If we can’t pick anything positive about our day, let’s think about the previous day or even another day in the current week. You can also think about an event to be held in the future that we are very much looking forward to. The purpose of this exercise is to distract from the negative stressful issues and focus on the positives of our situation.
Being constantly available increases your risk of being exposed to stressors. Try to separate your personal life from that at work and achieve the so-called work-life balance. If you can’t afford not to check your corporate email outside of business hours during the week, try not to do it on the weekend. Set time intervals when you are simply unavailable.
5. Limit your coffee consumption
Drinking coffee increases the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight reaction – a survival mechanism that forces us to make a quick decision: fight or run. This mechanism bypasses the step of logical thinking and immediate decision making. This is very useful in real emergency situations, less when you receive a stressful email.
6. Get enough sleep
This is very, very, very important. While we sleep, our brain “recharges” and “reprograms” – it goes back to the events of the past day and makes decisions about which to keep and which to get rid of (resulting in dreams). Thanks to this, we can wake up refreshed and ready for a new day. When we don’t get enough sleep or when the quality of sleep is not very good, our self-control, concentration and memory decrease. Lack of sleep increases the level of stress hormones – even when we are not exposed to stressors. When we have deadlines at work and we feel like we absolutely don’t have time to sleep, getting enough sleep is a good way to get in control of the situation and fulfill our duties well.
7. Don’t be negative about yourself
Most of our negative thoughts are thoughts – not facts. The more you focus on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. When you feel that you are overwhelmed by black thoughts, write them down on a piece of paper. When you release this self-propelled wheel and look at the notes, it will be easier for you to judge them with a sober eye. You will probably come to the conclusion that words like “never” or “worst” are not fully reflected in reality. If, after writing down these thoughts, you still think they are facts, show the card to a friend. Does this person agree with these statements? We often feel as if something is “always” or “never”, but it is useful to separate negative thoughts from actual facts.
8. Have perspective
Stress and worry are fueled by our distorted perception of reality. It is easy to conclude that the source of our stress are unrealistic deadlines, bad bosses, traffic jams… We cannot control these factors, but we can control our reactions to them. Before you get into a bad mood, spend a moment putting the situation into perspective. A good example would be when we think that “everything is going wrong” or “I’m not doing well.” List on a piece of paper all the things that are going wrong or that are not going well. You may think of a few examples – but it won’t be “all” or “nothing.” Changing perspective can help us manage stress.
One of the easiest ways to deal with periodic stress is something we have to do every day: breathing. When you feel stress mounting, close the door, sit back, put away all your distractions and just breathe. The goal is to breathe in itself, to focus on the task at hand so that the mind doesn’t think about other things. Concentrate on the feeling of breathing in and out of air. It may seem trivial, but it’s hard to do for a minute or two. If you have a thought, don’t worry, it will probably happen early on. The goal, however, is to focus all your attention on your breathing and not to think. If you have difficulty with this task, you can count each inhale and exhale until you reach 20. Then start over. If you get lost in counting, don’t worry – you can always start over. This exercise may seem trivial, but you will be surprised how calm you will feel after it and you will find that it will be easier for you to get rid of the negative thoughts that were previously in your head.
10. Ask for help
It is important to know your weaknesses and be able to ask for help when it is needed. Each of us knows someone at work or among family and friends who supports us and is ready to help when the situation requires it. Identify such people in your life and don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Sometimes, even just talking about the things we worry about can ease the stress and give us a new perspective. Often times others are able to come up with a solution that we would not have come up with because they are less emotionally involved.