How’s your to-do list looking? Pretty lengthy? Don’t stress, don’t panic; pour yourself a cuppa and take heed as Dani DiPirro shares need-to-know tips on surviving a stressful week.
Whether it was because you had a huge presentation coming up, an all- or-nothing meeting with important clients, or just a million little things to get done, you’ve probably experienced the hell that is ‘the most stressful week of the year’.
You know what I’m talking about!
It’s the week of only headaches, problems, mishaps and cranky co-workers. It’s the week when you say, “This is it! I’m going to quit for real this time!” (But you probably don’t, because when the week is through, you more likely realise this gig really isn’t all that bad.)
Your worst week might be predictable, coming during a certain month or time of year (think of the tax accountant at the end of the ﬁnancial year), or it might take you by surprise, pummelling you with tasks when you thought you had everything under control.
However and whenever your most stressful work week arrives, if you want to stay positively present, you need to learn to manage it. Start with ﬁguring out unique ways for handling stress. Do you need to let off steam with physical exercise? Or, are you someone who needs to escape into a peaceful place within yourself?
If you’re not sure what works best for you…
Here are a few techniques to get you started and help to make it easier to stay in the moment at work (no matter how stressful that moment might be!).
1 Let it slide
This doesn’t mean turn your back on the big things in your working life (you have to do that presentation, even if it’s stressing you out). It means letting the less important things slide for a while. Don’t panic about not answering that email about sales ﬁgures for something that is already in the market; or about tidying your desktop.
You’ll have a chance to catch up on non-essential tasks when the stressful week is over. If you’re worried about forgetting these things, make a list in your diary.
2 Take breaks and deep breaths
Taking breaks is essential to staying positive and making the most of your moments. You’ll focus better on the tasks in hand, even the stressful ones, if you refresh your focus often. Just a walk around the block or riding the elevator to the top ﬂoor and looking at the skyline will do. When you can’t take a break, take a deep breath to soothe yourself. Your boss throws another big task at you? Take a deep breath. Co-worker snaps at you when you offer to help out? Take a deep breath. Irritating email arrives in your in-box? Take a deep breath. Deep breaths are small things that can make a big difference, and they’re excellent at bringing you back to the present moment.
3 Bond with those around you
Are you the only one in the thick of this stressful maelstrom, or do you have co-workers who are managing the load, too?
If so, think of this week as an opportunity to focuson creating or strengthening bonds with those you work with. Commiserate about your sky-high stress levels (even laugh about them!), or ﬁnd innovative ways to make a dull task fun (a contest is always a good idea – who can win a new client ﬁrst?).
A stressful environment is so often a breeding ground for irritation and discontent, but with the right attitude, you have the power to transform negative situations into positive relationships.
4 Do something nice for someone
OK, I know you’re stressed and probably thinking, ‘Someone should be doing something nice for me!’ However, doing something nice for someone else – it can be something as small as asking someone how she’s doing or holding open the door for a co-worker – gives you feel-good mood boost. Take a moment to do something nice and you’ll feel a rush of positive energy. Even a little lift in your mood can have a big impact on bringing down
your stress levels.
6 Do one thing at a time
When you have 10 tasks (or 20!) on your to-do list, you probably want to do as many of them at the same time as possible (who can’t do online research at the same time as making calls to clients?). But instead of trying to keep as many balls in the air as possible, spend a short time prioritizing what you need to do, then start at the top of your list and ignore all interruptions to focus on each task, one at a time.
Studies show that doing one thing at a time is a more productive way to get things done (take that, multitasking!), and it also helps quell that panicky voice in your head that’s screaming, ‘OMG! I have so much to get done today!’ Juggling the balls can freak you out; throwing and catching just one is easy!
6 Focus on the now
Why would you want to focus on the now when the present situation is stressing you out? Actually, it’s often not the present moment that’s stressful; it’s worrying about the “what ifs”. What if everything doesn’t look right for the presentation?
What if you don’t get this done in time? Focus on the tasks you have to accomplish (one at a time!) and have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. Even if it doesn’t, you know a negative attitude would never have helped you, so by staying positive and focusing on the now you’ll be sure you did your best to help yourself.
7 Appreciate what’s working
Don’t let a speciﬁcally stressful situation sour the good things in your life. Focus on what’s going right at work – both inside and outside of the stressful situation. Did you do well on a presentation even though it was extremely difﬁcult to put together? Did you nail a tough sale? Did you challenge yourself in a new way? In the midst of a hard day, did your boss offer words of encouragement?
Take a moment or two and actually write a list of what’s going well to help you keep things in perspective and as a reminder to stay positive and present.