Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time For Your Stress Cure in 3 Easy Steps

But of course, I overidentify (and get ahead of myself).

So, this is for the many of you who wanted to understand how couples relate to one another in marriage over time, and whether there were specific personality factors or relationship styles that might predict more stability in a relationship, even during stressful times. Would couples become more reactive (e.g., react more intensely) to everyday relationship’s ups and downs while under increased stress?

In order to answer these questions, my conclusion led to the workplace.

When it comes to the typical working life, the level of on-the-job stress is the aspect that Americans are feeling tense about our jobs, with factors such as bad bosses, annoying colleagues and inadequate salaries leading the list of woes.

While an astonishing 75% of workers are hunting for new gigs, the current sluggish job market means many of them will be stuck in their current positions for the foreseeable future. But being locked into a less-than-fulfilling job doesn’t have to mean courting an ulcer. In fact, there’s an easy way for just about anyone to decrease their work-related mental tension – it requires asking yourself two questions and adopting a quick little mind trick. For my stressed-out friends and colleagues that wonder how I keep calm and carry on, here’s my secret I like to share with you:

Step 1
Ask Self: Is there anything I can do about this situation?
Once you have identified what the issues are that are contributing to your stress, it’s time to assess whether or not there is a concrete action you can take to rectify them. Understanding and accepting that there are elements of your working life and work relationships that are beyond your control is critical to reducing your on-the-job anxiety. You cannot defuse union-management tensions singlehandedly. You cannot pull your industry out of a slump. You cannot cure your CEO’s meglomania. And if you can’t affect these things, then using precious mental energy to curse them is a waste of your time. Once you realize that there are factors beyond your control, you also realize trying to control them anyway is degrading the quality of your working life.

Step 2
Ask: If I can do something, will the potential positives outweigh the negatives?
But what if there is something you can do about the situation? What if you can work extra late nights or weekends to reduce the workload or request that your cubicle neighbor stop consulting you for their work orders? Are these actions that you’re willing to take? It’s time to assess whether the benefits (not enduring the ongoing tasks, consistent activity requests, not distracted by employee interaction) are worth the trade-offs (a possible lack of rest, a coworker who must work independent) and make your go or no go decision accordingly. If you opt to act, you’ve taken a solid step to addressing your stress points. If you decide not to, it’s time to proceed to the final step.

Step 3
So, you’ve figured out that either A) there’s nothing you can do to eliminate the conditions causing your work stress or B) there are things you could do, but they come with downsides that you’re unwilling to deal with. What then? It’s time to reframe the story with a little cognitive behavioral therapy, so that you’re the one in the driver’s seat. The object is to get from “If not me, then who, but they can't find anyone else. My coworker sucks and I’m just stuck here to finish.” to the much more palatable and empowering “My immediate needs are my health first, then money and then things. My job provides me with the capacity to meet these needs, therefore I choose to balance my time to working at it.”

When you’re dealing with an anxious or stressful thought, try to write it down, write down the feelings it produces and the instinctive conclusions your stressed-out brain draws from them. You then list the evidence that supports your instinctive reaction and the evidence that undermines it. Finally, you use the non-supporting evidence to develop new conclusions that are more tempered and pragmatic than your initial instinctive panic.

Bottom Line
Workplace stress isn’t going anywhere and until the economy picks up, good news you probably aren’t either. You can take concrete actions to manage the factors spiking your blood pressure or you can stop trying to control those beyond your influence and work on reframing your negative perceptions of your work environment. Free your mind from the what-ifs of the outcome.

Dr. Daniyel Willis is conducting the free webinars "You Must Learn To Love More" on BlogTalk Radio from 11:30am -12pm PST. Click here to learn more or to register

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