Even those folks who love their jobs working at the best companies in the world face the occasional bad week at work. Although some personal responsibility may be the cause, more often, it’s beyond their control — it’s “the perfect storm” of stress at work. There are tips that can help limit the depth of the “bad” and help make things better.
Identify the cause
Knowing what’s making the week a bad one goes a long way toward changing it. Ask, “Is it a stressful project? Is it the equipment that has broken down three times in the last half an hour? Is it the co-worker in the next cubicle who finds it necessary to micromanage everyone else’s work?” Once the cause is clear, decide if it’s “fixable.” If so, get on it! However, if fixing it is dependent on someone else, calendar it: put a mental end date on the problem and even write that on the calendar. If the information technology guy will be in on Friday to fix the computer that keeps freezing up, a reminder of that helps relieve some of the stress of the bad week.
Cut yourself some slack
Everyone makes mistakes and, so far, the world hasn’t ended because of them. So, avoid being self-critical. Apologize and make the necessary corrections and adjustments. However, remember that there may be many people and factors that play into what goes on, and much of it won’t be under your control. Don’t take on the blame for those things.
Adopt a ‘get through it’ attitude
First, remember that challenges aren’t permanent, and the current ones will also pass. Then, remember what’s important. Life isn’t only about work; keep family photos in easy sight as reminders of what matters. Add fun office supplies to lighten things up. Don’t forget to laugh; there’s a reason that “laughter is the best medicine” has become a cliche. Double-dip in the attitude adjustment pool with this stress tip. Strike a power pose, like that of a superhero. Scientists say it sends a message of confidence along a direct link between body and brain, and it’s bound to generate a little laughter as well.
Another way to adopt an attitude of getting through is with inspirational quotations. Post them on the walls or computer monitor. Try one of these during the next bad week:
- “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” — Dale Carnegie
- “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” — Robert Schuller
- “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
Do a little self-care
Eat both breakfast and lunch on days expected to be stressful, and be sure to drink enough water. Take short breaks. As counterintuitive as it seems, productivity rises with those breaks. Also, stop multitasking, which is less productive. Head to the gift shop and treat yourself to something fun or indulgent. Listen to some favorite music, which scientists note elevates people’s moods.
Prioritize, schedule, and list it
Before beginning any other tasks for the day, take the time to prioritize the work. Decide what you must accomplish that day. Next, estimate the time needed to finish each task. Overestimate for projects that are likely to be stressful. Finally, create an ordered to-do list, in the order of scheduled completion. Make this even easier with a notepad dedicated to prioritizing and scheduling tasks.
Sometimes, the best way to deal with stress at work is not to deal with it at all. Put everything down and walk away from the workstation. Weather permitting, take a short walk outside and get some fresh air. If that’s not an option, then find a funny video or meme online to laugh about during a break. Sometimes, the best answer is to have a good cry. According to Dr. William Frey, of the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, emotional tears contain stress hormones. The scientific theory is that they remove the hormones from the body, and that tears stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemicals.
Ask for help
Unless the boss is an ogre, you don’t have to do everything. Ask a trusted co-worker for help. Be willing to reciprocate as well. Talk to the boss. Part of being a good leader is providing workers with the necessary resources, and a chance to vent might be that resource. In addition, a supervisor can adjust deadlines or delegate part of the tasks elsewhere.