Monday Mornings with Madison


Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at the sources and causes of workplace stress and positive ways to react to stress, like relieving the anxiety and tension that are a byproduct of stress.  But, perhaps the best way to deal with stress is to stop being tyrannized by your emotions in the first place. 

After you’ve blown off some steam, you may want to consider ways to work through stress in a more logical, clearheaded way rather than making decisions based on emotions.  The good news is that while you may not be able to control the external forces that producing the stress, you can control how you react to it.  The goal is to not get lost in the negative feelings.

Rethink your standards.
If your failure to achieve perfection causes continual guilt and frustration, redefine what success means. For example, if you always feel inundated with work, ask yourself if you’re spending more time on tasks than they require. Sometimes we actually shoot ourselves in the foot by making the task harder than it needs to be. 

Reframe your situation.
Weather delays your flight to an important business meeting. Instead of stewing about the disruption to your schedule, which you can’t control anyway, take advantage of the extra time to prepare for your presentation or catch up on sleep.  This is the proverbial: “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”  Trying to make the most of a situation will help you turn a negative into a positive. 

Reassess the significance of the problem.
Will it matter tomorrow? Next week? A year from now? Emotion magnifies the difficulty of a problem in the moment.  Perspective shrinks it.  Make sure you give yourself a steady dose of the latter to counteract your emotions. 

Workplace Stress-Busters.

1.  Be transparent. 
Not about your feelings on your job or co-workers, but about the work you are doing. Do your job, let people know about it, and take credit for what you’ve done.The truth cuts through any politics and provides opportunity for feedback.

2.  Prioritize.
Instead of stressing about how you can’t possibly do it all, list out your projects and actions and set priorities. Make sure that your priorities align with what your boss sees as your priorities.  Then get started.  Focus on one task at a time.  Do that and then move on to the next task.  Minimize interruptions.  By setting a clear path, you eliminate uncertainty, which is a major stress factor.

3.  Communicate.
If you really are being given more work than you can possibly handle, discuss with your boss what is a realistic amount of work you can accomplish within a given period of time.  Reach an agreement of what is realistic and then focus on the task at hand.  No one knows your job better than you, but this gets everything in the open and provides a feedback mechanism on whether you are on the right track.

4.  Prayer/Meditation.
Find a conference room or bathroom stall, lock the door, and quiet your mind.  Even if it is for just 10 minutes, take a break. Focus on what you can do to serve others. Think about those that don’t have a job and get back to work!

After-Hours Stress-Busters.

1.  Rest.
Start setting aside enough hours for a full night’s sleep.  Research shows that getting at least 7 ½ hours of sleep each night leads to better health and promotes weight loss.  During a particularly stressful time, set aside extra time each week for tension-relieving activities, meditation and self-reflection.

2.  Support Network.
Develop a network of people you can turn to for support.  Research shows that when lonely people are stressed, they experience higher blood pressure and more insomnia than those who have a strong social network. Single out a few good friends and family members. Not only can they provide a listening ear when you need to vent, but they might also have a different perspective or offer ideas on how to deal with a tough situation.  You may not have all the answers, but someone else – who may have gone through something similar – might.

3.  Face the situation.
Don’t avoid the problem. That will only make it worse. Failure to change your surroundings or manage your stress level can contribute to long-term health issues like clinical depression, anxiety disorder, and heart disease.


“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Roman Emperor, A.D. 161-180 (121 AD – 180 AD)

© 2009 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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