Two of the three doctors in the practice are overbooked. The phone is ringing off the hook. Your co-worker is getting on your nerves. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, a cranky patient directs every ounce of their frustration squarely at you. You could run screaming from the office, but that wouldn’t be very professional. You could put your head down on your desk and start crying, but that wouldn’t solve anything either. When the going gets tough at the office – which it does from time to time, even in the best-managed workplaces – having in-the-moment stress management tools to use can save the day (and your sanity). Here are seven ways to take the bite out of situational stress.
- Pause to consider what the root cause of the stress you’re feeling actually is. Often times, simply identifying and labeling the reason for the stress will help you accept it in the moment. For example, if you’re experiencing residual stress from having dealt with a difficult patient an hour ago, recognizing that can help you put the incident and the associated tension behind you.
- Keep in mind that the situation is temporary. On an especially hectic day in the office, simply reminding yourself that the phone will stop ringing and that you’ll be in your car driving home by 5:30 p.m. may be enough to get you through the day.
- During your next break or over the lunch hour, find a quiet spot and make a quick call to a friend or family member who is generally in a positive, upbeat mood. Don’t mention that you’re stressed out, but instead ask how their day is going.
- Grab a pen and pad and write down at least three things you’re grateful for: my dog; I don’t have a lot of debt; dinner is in the crock pot; my kids are healthy; I have a steady job; I get to visit my family this weekend; my new shoes are fabulous; I had a healthy breakfast this morning. Taking time to experience gratitude – even for a moment – can help offset stress.
- When there is a momentary lull in the action, take a five minute walk outside. Once around the block or up the street and back will change your channel.
- Take five very long, very conscious deep breaths.
- Slip away to the bathroom to brush your hair and teeth, then apply fresh lip and hand moisturizer. This may sound superficial, but freshening up is a simple, doable activity that will help you feel more in control.
Try one or more of these tips the next time you feel like you’re about to blow a fuse. If you are frequently stressed a more comprehensive approach may be needed. Incorporate lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, enough sleep, good nutrition, meditation, yoga, and journaling into your daily routine to manage chronic stress.