“workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work and stress-reduction.” – American Institute of Stress

In today’s fast-paced business world there is an ever increasing demand to do more with fewer resources, and in less time, than ever before.

This can lead you to feel stressed . . . or should I say S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D! Especially if you work in an environment in which you are only as good as your last success or sale.

As hard as people work, it can be difficult to keep up.

The question this raises is what can you do to tame the stress monster and, restore some semblance of peace and balance to your life – both professionally and personally?

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1. Know The Source Of Your Stress

I recently read a book about emotional intelligence in which the author talked about the importance of finding the balance between your emotional mind and your rational mind.

Without getting into the physiological make-up of your brain, anxiety and/or stress occur when our emotional side overrides our rational thought process, to the point that we are in a state of constant reaction.

This can lead to feelings of being out of control, which in turn perpetuates an escalating cycle of stress.

In an effort to regain control and leverage your rational thinking abilities, knowing what is causing your stress is key.

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According to studies by Stress.org, the main causes of workplace stress are:

  • Workload – 46%
  • People issues – 28%
  • Juggling work / personal lives – 20%
  • Lack of job security – 6%

While you may have one or perhaps even a combination of the above listed sources being at the root of your stress, you can do something about it.

2. Recognize That You Are Not Powerless – Take Action

One of the worst feelings you can have is to feel that you are trapped and that you can’t do anything about it.

When that happens, you are reduced to being nothing more than a spectator in your own life. This ultimately increases your stress levels!

But you can do something.

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For example, if your workload is too heavy, schedule a meeting with your boss. Let them know that you want to maintain your current high level of performance but require more resources.

I can’t tell how many times over the years I have seen first hand, people who were trapped by nothing more than their own misperceptions as to what would happen if they spoke up and said stop, I have a problem or I need help.

If you are experiencing workplace stress because of a relationship issue with a fellow employee, make sure that you document everything and then seek support from either a mentor or your HR Department.

If the source of your relationship woes are with your boss, read one of my most recent posts titled 3 Steps For Dealing With A Bad Boss.

The point is you are not powerless, so don’t simply accept the cards you have been dealt – reshuffle the deck and take new cards.

3. If You Can’t Change It, Then Just Change

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There are of course things that you can’t control or change.

External factors beyond your control include a Merger & Acquisition, or the arrival of a new boss. Either of these scenarios can certainly throw your world into a temporary spin off its axis.

The key to dealing with stress that originates outside of your direct control, is to not dwell on what has happened . Instead consider all angles and then determine what course of action you can take.

If you have a new boss, schedule a time to meet with them to learn what their goals are, and how you can help them to achieve it. If you do not fit into the new boss’ plans, then proactively look for work elsewhere.

4. Have The Courage To Face The Unknown . . . Freedom

At the end of the day, believing that you are trapped and simply grinning and bearing an intolerable situation while waiting for the other shoe to drop, is likely to be more stressful than anything else.

It is far better to have the difficult conversations and to look behind the curtain of the unknown, than it is to simply stay put and do nothing.

Or as a great President once said, the “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”

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