Choosing the right response when you are nearing your breaking point at work requires first realizing that you are dangerously stressed. Deepak Chopra, an alternative medicine advocate, explains that people react differently to pressure – some retreat, some simmer, and some explode. Understanding that you are unable to cope is the first step to managing your response.
Chronic stress will damage your health because hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline throw your body out of balance. Chopra lists typical behaviors that cause imbalance, many of which are common in the workplace such as working until exhausted, focusing intensely without taking a break, overscheduling, constantly texting or emailing, multitasking, and eating on the run. Avoiding these habits is, of course, ideal, but when the ideal is unobtainable, and your breaking point is nigh…
- See the big picture. Don’t fire off an email or respond in a way that you will regret. Breathe deeply and consider how important the issue will be five years from now. You can always revisit the issue and take action later when you have a calmer, less emotional perspective. Your blood is boiling, but it will also cool down.
- Depersonalize the problem. What seems like an attack could later be a source of growth. A criticism from a client or a supervisor, whether valid or not, can be a learning experience. A new client who is difficult may cause you to limit your intake of new clients, a supervisor who behaves irrationally may cause you to find a better job. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements,” reminds us that personal attacks say more about the deliverer than the receiver.
- Choose your focus. You can decide to focus on the source of your anger, or you can put your anger aside and focus on something more productive. Dive into that project, or take a break and go for a run. There will always be stressors. You can choose to react to them poorly or choose an alternative path that will improve overall results.
- Vent to a colleague. Elizabeth A. Lowman of The Muse suggests talking with a colleague. Getting things off your chest will lighten your stress load. A colleague can offer a more salient perspective and even some words of advice.
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