Handling Stress at the Office
Stress is inevitable in life, but it seems much more common at work where I spend the most amount of hours in a week worrying.
Even though I love my job and always find the stress rewarding, I always need some time to calm myself down and get myself back into a productive mood.
The first thing I do is remove myself from the stress and take a big breath. What does that mean? Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, I take a step back and force all of my responsibilities out of my head for a few minutes. Maybe I go to the bathroom or maybe I stay at my desk. As much as possible I try to avoid all stimulants, like phones ringing or people who might ask me to do something. For a few moments, I need to get away from everything so that I don't snap.
Once I have my few moments of peace, I focus on breathing or do something that I enjoy, like reading an article from The New York Times or talking to my boyfriend. Sometimes I'll even just try to keep my mind as blank as possible. Anything to calm me down, because when I can feel stress building up, I know that I'm going to explode soon if I don't bring myself back to a reasonable mood.
Once I've calmed down, I return to my desk and spend five minutes prioritizing all of the tasks I have to do. By spending a few minutes writing everything down and then deciding how much time to spend on each task, I feel much more confident that I can follow the plan and get everything done. In the end, it makes me even more productive.
When I'm really in a crazy mood and feel overwhelmed, I make a point to tell my coworkers (in a nice way!) "Hey, I'm feeling really stressed right now. I need to remove myself from this situation." I have a great relationship with my coworkers, where we can all say this and know that the other person really needs a breather.
If the stress persists for more than one day and it feels like it's getting out of control, I make sure to set aside some time at home to do something that I really enjoy. Sometimes I will order sushi or watch a movie with friends. Anything to calm me down and to remind me that the stress will pass and to focus on the most important things in my life. If possible, I try to work from home for a few hours or just take a little bit of time off. Going in an hour late gives me a little more time to sleep while leaving an hour early gives me more time for my life outside of work. It all depends on where the stress is stemming from and how bad it is.
Above all, I believe that stress about work sometimes inspires me to produce better work, but at the same time, I try to remember that work is just a way to make a living. It's not the end of the world.