Coping With Stress At Work

Work as a source of stress has become commonplace in the wide range of human experiences


Stress is an inevitable human experience. We forget that an optimal amount of it is even necessary. Just imagine a world without stress. Would we have been motivated and driven? Well, that is rhetorical, isn’t it? Well, it overstepping optimal is what causes perturbation and breakdown. And most often, we fail to recognize and acknowledge that which can lead to related mental health concerns. 

Stress simply put, is a call for adjustment by the mind or the body. It is a reaction that causes a momentary shut down of mental faculties because it is perceived as a life-threatening obstacle by the primitive brain. However, in reality, that is not the truth at all. The most important understanding that we derive out of this understanding is that first of all, it isn’t a matter of life and death, and that it always passes!

Work as a source of stress has become commonplace in the wide range of human experiences. Work is, of course, the place where we spend a substantial amount of time. It covers a significant part of life and with no doubt is what makes many other aspects of life easier. However, in my observation, we end up making work our ‘everything’, our world. And the consequence of this is that the moment there is a derailment or something seemingly isn’t working out, we perceive that as our world crumbling down. Therefore, stress by itself is not a harmful agent. However, our perception of it and what we do beyond the realm of work are both important factors in leading better-balanced lives.

Way forward to stay motivated can be small hacks in everyday life that can have a large impact on our lives. 

Mindfulness: The ability to stay in the present moment because there is no reality other than the present moment. This can be achieved through formal meditative practices. However, mindfulness has an informal aspect too which might be easier to practice considering the current day lifestyle. Mindfulness of chores is one such. It suggests that one could choose a daily chore in which he/she chooses to be mindful, where all attention is paid to the chore and in case of distraction, a gentle bringing our mind back to the activity being practiced. This helps train the brain for an aspect of refocusing, which is very crucial because we get carried away with the lemons that life throws at us, very naturally. However, it does not have to be so. Because my friends, I have to tell you that we cannot avoid distraction, but we can avoid our dwelling on it! Good news is that the brain can be trained.

Everyday deliberate cool off periods: We get so caught up in the rat race that we forget that like machines, we too need our fuel and frequent servicing and repairs. And I have to say that it is more important for humans to do this, because an accumulation of everyday stressors can lead to massive breakdowns in terms of burnout, depression, anxiety, etc. These can be achieved with simple exercises like relaxation techniques and simple breathing exercises, journal writing, the practice of gratitude and spending time with loved ones.

Hobbies: At the cost of sounding like an encyclopedia of clichés, I have to say that developing and pursuing hobbies is as important as holding a job. Hobbies are like anchors that can be huge cushions in stressful periods. It helps in unwinding and refocusing energies into things we like as opposed to being caught up with the stress, in our heads.

Exercise: Exercise, as we are all aware has benefits of great magnitude. From a mental health perspective, extensive research suggests that exercise has the ability to alleviate stress thereby reducing the risk for depression and anxiety. And it, of course, has innumerable physical benefits too. A consistent regime of 3-4 days a week spending about 3-40 minutes is all it demands. It is definitely worthwhile adding this to our lifestyle as an avenue to channelize energy in an appropriate way.

Thinking and perception: This is in fact, the most important aspect to be practiced. It is most often not the event in itself that causes problems, but it is our perception of it. We might not be able to change our thoughts, which is what is suggested to us so often. However, if we understand how unhelpful a certain pattern of thinking is for us, the awareness in itself can be a powerful tool. The moment there is awareness, it gives room for psychological flexibility to generate alternatives. Creating awareness can include hacks like tracking what event caused it and how it was unhelpful in the situation to be dwelling on it and what else can be done about it paves way for the training of the brain. The intent is not to change the thoughts or make it go away but to be able to acknowledge its existence without getting stuck with it.

There is immense scope for bettering our lives through understanding dealing with stress more effectively. There is always a choice to let the stress impact our lives lesser in a ‘not so stress-free world’. The key to staying motivated is exploring the options and choosing what works best, as someone once said: “to each, his own”. Let us pledge to help ourselves, because after all, life is short, but also long enough to be better than who we were yesterday!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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