Knowing how to bullet-proof your happiness and make yourself stress-free even in a hectic workplace environment will help you learn how to handle stress at work. With my accumulated work experience spanning several years and working with many reputed companies, I have learned a few tricks of the trade from my own work journey. These have helped me immensely to learn how to handle pressure and stress at work even in a super hectic work environment. However, before learning how to handle stress at work, it is important to understand what stress is.
What is stress? – Step 1 to understanding how to handle stress at work
It is very simple. Stress is a response of the mind. Yes, that’s right! It is a response of the mind or the human brain whenever it perceives something to be dangerous or unpleasant, either in the near future or immediate present. So, stress is nothing but your mind's response to the situation before you. Let’s delve even deeper into this definition.
Whatever the human brain perceives as dangerous or unpleasant is what we believe. This belief leads to unwanted stress and tension. It is important to understand that not everything that the mind perceives, or experiences, is true or factual. There is a small difference between who you truly are and what your mind tells you to believe. Understanding this difference will help you to learn how to handle stress at work. Not only stress at work, but also unwarranted stress in life. Objectively evaluating the response of the mind will help you to align with it in a much better manner.
“It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
- Hans Selye
Scientifically speaking, stress is the activation of the fight or flight mode of the human brain. Let’s quickly understand this a little as well.
What is fight or flight mode? – An important aspect of understanding how to handle stress at work
In pre-historic times, when civilization was not as advanced as it is today, human beings lived in the wilds. This in turn meant that they had to stay vigilant at all times to protect themselves from wild animals. It was during this period, that the human brain developed the fight or flight response. This primarily means that when you are faced with a dangerous situation, you either stay and fight or flee (fly away) from the situation.
When you apply the same logic in today’s modern times, it basically means that when we are confronted with a stressful situation, the fight or flight mode of the human brain is automatically activated. Again, going back to our previous analysis, a situation is only as stressful as your mind perceives it to be. Although this aspect is deeply ingrained in us, whatever our stressful situation is, it is definitely not as dangerous or harmful as our ancestors were faced with. Hence, understanding this important aspect of how the human brain reacts, will help you to manage your response in a much better manner.
“Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.”
- Andrew Bernstein
What is workplace stress? – Understanding the triggers helps us learn how to handle stress at work.
Having understood the basic meaning of stress and the fight or flight mode of the human brain, we can now move on to understanding workplace stress. More specifically, the triggers of workplace stress and how to handle pressure and stress at work. Workplace stress is a specific kind of stress which primarily pertains to the work we undertake, or to our roles within our work organization, the kind of business we manage or stress about our overall professional life.
There are a variety of techniques that can be used to manage stress. Some people find that exercise is a good way to reduce stress, while others find that relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation are helpful. Some people also find it helpful to talk to friends or family members about their stressors, and to get support from them.
It is important to find the techniques to manage stress, as different people will respond to different approaches. It is also important to remember that stress is a normal part of life, and that it is not always possible to eliminate all sources of stress from your life. However, by using some of these techniques, you can learn to manage your stress in a healthy way and prevent it from becoming overwhelming.
External triggers of workplace stress - A key to understanding how to handle pressure and stress at work
Workplace stress is caused due to certain triggers. The first kind is an external trigger. Something that is beyond your control. This external trigger is again of two types. The first type emanates from your peers and colleagues at work. Your teammates who work with you are either your subordinates or your peers. Take, for example, office politics. This is prevalent in almost all workplaces. Being left out of team discussions or meetings, passed on for a promotion, and instances like these. Being victim to such baseless office politics causes undue stress for us at the workplace. How to handle stress at work includes understanding how such office politics affect us.
The second kind of external trigger originates from your superiors or senior officials above you. Undue pressure to complete a task, tight deadlines, and an unsupportive boss can cause great levels of undue work stress. How to handle stress at work begins with understanding where your stress is getting triggered from. Once you understand that, you can formulate an approach to deal with it and learn how to handle pressure and stress at work.
“It is not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it”
- Lou Holtz
Internal triggers of workplace stress – how to handle stress at work by understanding our internal triggers
Before we move on to the secret to understanding how to handle stress at work, it is important to recognize the third and silent trigger. And this is an internal one. An internal trigger that ignites your stress at work is your own unrealistic expectations. Let’s take a few examples. You are a very ambitious person and want to achieve that promotion within 6 months as against the standard 12 months. These extremely high expectations that you set for yourself can trigger workplace stress for you. In another example, you try to work extra hard at a project to achieve perfection in order to gain recognition for your work. This goal can also lead to unwanted workplace stress caused due to an internal trigger- a source of stress over which you can exert a little control but have not yet recognized.
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness”
- Albert Einstein
How to handle stress at work caused due to internal triggers?
While it is important to have a goal for yourself, it is also equally important to remember to not get too attached to it. Setting unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself, just to earn some form of recognition or in order to feel worthy or loved can cause undue stress for you. How to handle stress at work caused due to internal triggers becomes an easy problem to solve once you start mastering this mindset. Desire is never bad, but when we get attached to the fulfillment of the desire, that is when it becomes a source of psychological pain for us. But why is this so, you ask.
The answer is simple, yet super powerful, just like all of the coaching principles that make up the Bulletproofing-HappinessTM formula - It is not possible to control the outcome of any situation with 100% surety, let alone the outcome or result of your hard work. So, just do your best, and surrender the rest.
Your life is a series of things in flux. You cannot control the weather; you cannot control how long your breakfast will take to digest nor can you control how your body will react to something. For example, you want to grow your hair. This is your goal. You can do your best with good nutrition, a proper hair care regime, and patience. But is the outcome of your efforts in your hand? No! How and when your hair grows is not in your hand. You can only do so much that is in your control. You have to learn to let go of things beyond your control. This simple mantra alone can teach you how to handle stress at work. Stress management tools and techniques can teach you how to manage pressure and stress at work effectively.
Simply learn to get comfortable with the unknown. Instead of trying to control everything, learn to become comfortable with not being able to control everything. This is the simple and secret formula to learning how to handle stress at work. The self-inflicted stress triggers are in your control and the way to manage them is to get comfortable with the unknown outcome.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
- William James
Application of the formula – how to handle stress at work by applying the secret formula.
Once you have recognized your triggers and understood how to deal with them, what comes next? Application. One important aspect of the application of any formula to reduce stress is consistency. Just applying it one day will not work. Hence, you need a motivator, a mentor, and someone who has walked this path before. Finding that emotional anchor will help you to learn how to handle stress at work, consistently and effectively.
In conclusion, apply this simple formula consistently and consciously and start seeing the results for yourself. Start applying the learnings shared above on how to handle pressure and stress at work. Work with a professional who can keep track of your performance and help you reach your goal. Don’t waste another 10 years of your life trying to understand how to handle stress at work. I learned it the hard way. And hence, have shared my tried and tested simple formula to bullet-proofing your happiness. Take charge of your life, today!
About the author, Aman Chandra -
Dealing with the separation of his parents at the age of two years and battling crippling anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at the age of twelve years are just a few of the challenges that Aman dealt with. With a burning desire to learn “how to be happy in life” despite there being so much suffering, Aman began a life-long journey of studying under various global personal and spiritual growth masters, such as Eckhart Tolle and Tony Robbins. With this was born his tried-and-tested Bulletproofing-HappinessTM formula, and he uses the same to coach seekers across the globe on how to overcome challenges and live a truly happy life.
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