Three ways to fend off stress

Stress is focused on avoiding undesirable outcomes

You may discover that the issues at the root of your stress are not important enough to warrant the level of stress that they cause

You may discover that the issues at the root of your stress are not important enough to warrant the level of stress that they cause

 

Stress exists in every workplace. But rather than trying the latest stress-release techniques, it may be more effective to understand how stress works and where it comes from.

Stress is a reflection of the avoidance system, which is focused on avoiding undesirable outcomes.

When this system is active (perhaps a client is threatening to fire you, for instance), you are fearful and stressed if you are failing, and relieved if you succeed. So how do you deal with it?

1 Figure out what you’re avoiding Sometimes, it’s obvious: Big deadlines, angry clients and frustrated bosses.

But when you are experiencing long-term stress, it might be difficult to untangle the factors that you want to avoid. It might be helpful to talk to a friend, partner, coach or therapist about what is going on.

You may discover that the issues at the root of your stress are not important enough to warrant the level of stress that they cause.

2 Reframe the situation If your daily work life is stressful, you may be focusing too much on what can go wrong. Instead, start thinking about the desirable aspects of work. What do you really want to achieve?

By focusing yourself on the potential positives, you engage your approach motivational system rather than the avoidance system, and open yourself up to more experiences of joy and satisfaction.

3 Learn to calm yourself Taking a few minutes to disengage yourself from the workplace and to focus on your breathing can help you to calm down. It can also be helpful to burn off some of that energy.

The motivational energy generated by the avoidance system prepares you to act in the world.

If you spend your day sitting at a desk, then that energy has nowhere to go.

Schedule some exercise for the middle of the day. Channelling it into physical activity is a healthy way to release that energy and let you get back to work. – Harvard Business Review