Taking The High Road: Managing Stress

The most important thing to acknowledge about stress is that it’s very common and that everyone experiences stress at some point in their life. Even people who love their jobs will experience some stress in relation to their role. In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to avoid some degree of stress. We live in a globalised 24/7 environment and we’re expected to keep up or get left behind. We’re more connected than ever before, to both those we want to be connected to and those we don’t.

If you’re conscious about the world around you, you’ll notice a lot of people stressing over something. Whether big or small, the reactions are quite often the same and immediately noticeable. In other words, you can see when someone’s stressed over something. In fact, you’re quite familiar with that look, as you’ve been there before on more than one occasion.

Well, imagine if you could reverse that look. Imagine if you had the power to create a third eye view of yourself and the confidence to alter not only what you see but what others see as well. By using the impending perceptions others will have of your response, think of how you’d really like to be seen in the eyes of the public, or friends, or family and work towards building that new profile of yourself.

Some of us are fortunate to have ‘that friend’ who appears unflappable, grounded, and inspiring, who brings out the best in us. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the principles behind that person’s contagious character and make an effort to share it with others. It may well mean we have to go out of our comfort zone to be a little less like ourselves and a little more like ‘that friend’.

When it comes to managing stress in the workplace, there are some key ingredients to turning a potentially horrible day into a more joyous one. Starting with the advice given above, try and remember: a bad reaction, response or decision will usually be followed by another bad reaction, response or decision. So, break your own mould by setting a few guidelines of your own and put them to practice knowing that world is watching you on global TV.

  1. Look different: don’t look like everyone else when it comes to managing stress. Take the high road and give people something positive to talk about in relation to your actions. If you have ‘that friend’ think of how they might react and, if appropriate, follow suit.

  2. Have a plan: Breathe, walk, or talk. Take 10 big breaths, each with a long exhale that lasts 10 seconds. This will buy you time, slow you down, and help you think more strategically. Maybe, step away and take a short stroll around the block, building, garden, etc. Be sure to stop somewhere and focus on something you can admire for its smell, craftsmanship, or beauty. Like a flower or a statue. Or, saddle up next to a colleague or friend for a cup of tea and a quick chat about them and their day. Maybe find that somebody you haven’t seen in a while or have not got to know that well in your work environment. Remember, you’re not seeking professional help here, so don’t start a big ‘bitch and moan’ session with a likeminded person. These are strategies to help you cope by having an immediate plan. If you feel, beyond that, that professional help is warranted, then go get some.
  3. Be generous: Nothing appeals more to the senses than generosity. And, it doesn’t have to be something that costs money. Learn to smile, smile at everyone, acknowledge everyone around you. Smiling is free, infectious, and raises endorphin levels, making you happier! If you’ve got a few of dollars to spare, offer to buy a colleague a coffee, or bring in a cake for the office staff to share. Generosity never goes unnoticed!
  4. Set boundaries: This globalised, digitalised 24/7 environment we live in is so intricately connected that it’s almost impossible to escape from this landscape that holds no rules, regulations or time limits. As a result we’ve lost our ability to be mindful even in the environments created for mindfulness: our homes. We no longer, talk, listen, or think without being distracted or interrupted by the very network we created for ourselves in trying to keep with the times.

  5. Exercise: in terms of natural buffers to stress, nothing beats a rapidly beating heart. Endorphin levels go up radically when you exercise, again, making you happier and more resilient when it comes to stress.