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Wellbeing / Stress management

Ways of dealing with stress at work

Dealing with stress at work can be a good thing up to a point, as the extra energy can increase our performance. But what can you do when it becomes too much and performance starts to drop off?

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Stress is defined as a person’s response to his or her environment. It’s measured in terms of how stimulated we get in response to particular situations.

Eventually the body uses up all the available energy, there’s not enough left for normal functioning and we suffer some of the symptoms of stress. We find it hard to concentrate, our attention slips and our productivity takes a dive.

It turns out that particular personality traits can lend you to having a lower threshold for stress, meaning you suffer from workplace stress more easily than some other people.

I mention these because my observation is solopreneurs can have a tendency towards these characteristics. They include:

  • Feeling overly responsible for things (like customer happiness)
  • fear of losing control
  • fear of failure and making mistakes
  • fear of being judged by others
  • not thinking we are good enough
  • a chronic striving to be perfect.

In addition to your own personal foibles, there’s a few work-related issues that can set us off too:

  • A lack of direction
  • An uncooperative or a competitive atmosphere
  • autocratic leadership (who us?)
  • unclear expectations
  • a lack of teamwork
  • too much work
  • confused communications

So what can we do if we are prone to feeling stressed? Most of the main techniques involve interrupting the physical response. We need to slow down the output of energy and restock our supplies. There’s a mountain of stuff written about reducing stress levels, but here are some easy tips if you find yourself tipping into the danger zone:

Deep breathing

This interrupts the energy output cycle and forces your body back into normal mode. 4 counts in, 4 counts out – repeat 20 to 30 times

"We are what we think, so controlling our thoughts can significantly reduce stress levels."

Visualise something positive

If you think anxious thoughts, you become tense. Use the power of your imagination to refocus your mind on positive, optimistic images. It doesn’t matter what you visualise, as long as it’s calming to you. As you relax your mind, your body also relaxes.

Want more articles like this? Check out the stress management section.

Thought stopping

We are what we think, so controlling our thoughts can significantly reduce stress levels. Thought stopping involves concentrating on the unwanted thoughts and after a short time, suddenly stopping and emptying your mind, using the mental command “stop” or a loud noise to interrupt negative thinking. Then, focus on positive thoughts and outcomes.

Assertiveness skills

Feeling like we have little control is one of the drivers of stress. Saying what we mean (with consideration) and asking for what we want allows us to feel we have control over our lives. Stand up for yourself, communicate directly and do not let others take advantage of you.

The goal is to reduce stress to a level where you can perform more effectively again. As with most things, you get better at these with practice.

Have you successfully reduced your stress levels via any of these techniques? Or do you have stress busting tips of your own? Add your comment to let us know.

Megan Tough

runs Complete Potential, a company that helps businesses solve their strategy and people problems. She loves being a solopreneur, and when she doesn't have her nose to the grindstone, is fulfilling her other passion of fitness and health.

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