Making stress work for you

Making stress work for you

A demanding boss, missed deadlines, unpaid overtime, an argument with your partner – these are a series of relatively minor issues. However, when they pile on top of each other, you end up feeling stressed out. Stress has been around since the start of time. Usually it is due to the awareness of something demanding which extends into a never-ending future. It’s the ‘future’ that applies the pressure. It means we should usually be able to manage our stress levels. Many deadlines are self-imposed.

Too much stress can be seriously bad for you. It results in additional worry and increases your chances of making mistakes. It can even affect your health. On the flip side, moderate levels of stress play a positive role – improving your alertness, motivating you to perform better and even improving short-term immunity.

How do you behave when you are under stress? Do you ‘focus’ or ‘fold’? Here’s how to make stress to work for you.

Be prepared
This is the Boys Scouts’ motto and it works well when dealing with pressure. On a regular basis, try to imagine the different scenarios that can come from any quarter. For each one, think how you would handle it. This allows you to put in place the necessary steps to prevent or handle a difficult situation. Talk to others in similar positions to find out the challenging issues they have to deal with. Ask what they did right to manage the situation. More importantly, ask what they could have done better.

Manage your time well
If you are always running late, you won’t be able to handle an unexpected issue. Being punctual (or, better still, early) gives you that extra time to deal with the last-minute crisis. Always factor in 10 to 15 minutes before scheduled appointments, and an hour or more for really important situations where getting it right is vital.

Develop good communication skills
Managing people’s expectations plays a key role in the demands they make of you. You also need to manage your own expectations correctly to avoid over-committing yourself to too many projects. If you communicate clearly with your management and your co-workers, you can reduce the build-up of stressful situations.

Adopt a positive attitude
This can be difficult when you are under pressure, but keep a sense of humour. By adopting a “glass is half full and not half empty” attitude, you reduce the chances of getting bogged down and depressed. Remember, everyone feels stressed from time to time, so this situation is not something unique to you. If you feel the black cloud looming, distract yourself by calling a friend, or buying a small treat. Don’t brood. It is unproductive to feel bitter or talk yourself down over mistakes made. The past is done. Tomorrow will be another day. Make sure it will be a better one.

What is the worst case scenario?
Think about what could happen if the situation is not resolved in the way that you want. Life will go on. It may less than perfect, but it will not be the end of the world.

No one can control everything. This does not mean that you are powerless to take positive action or unable to control your emotions. Your ability to deal effectively with stress will play a tremendous role not only in your career but your whole life too.