22As we mentioned in our previous article about stress, the people management career is one of the most stressful paths possible. Therefore it's vital to know the Do's and Don'ts of handling stress.
But let's begin with some important factors you should consider:
· First, let us mention that not all stress is bad! Moderate levels of it are absolutely necessary to maintain the right sense of urgency for accomplishing important tasks (and to keep you from falling asleep at your desk). The high levels of intensive stress, especially if chronic, are the ones carrying a potential health threat.
· There are a number of internal and external factors contributing to the feeling of anxiety and one of the most fundamental ones is the personal perspective (or mindset). The same situation might cause completely different responses – it can be perceived as highly stressful by some people or business as usual by others. It is very important to remember this when dealing with the next "crisis" in the workplace.
· High levels of stress might also be caused by positive events: e.g. planning your wedding or moving to a new house. The practices mentioned below equally apply to these situations as well.
One of the most powerful work-related stress factors are the large-scale projects or tasks that feel like a lot more than we could handle. Always remember the old saying – "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." As complex as it seems, divide the project into smaller, manageable tasks, organize them into a strict plan and quickly jump into step one. This will give you the necessary feeling of control to overcome the anxiety (and will also boost your productivity). Additionally, you might also seek the help of your professional or personal network – strength in numbers is a powerful weapon against stress. Remember that feeling alone is one of the major stress factors both at work and at home – make the most of your social networks and you'll never walk alone.
• Breathe. Just breathe. Often when we have a tough day, we begin to breathe irregularly and don't even realize it. The fast and shallow breathing is one of the main effects of stress. If we manage to counter this with a relaxed, deep breathing for about three to four minutes we'll be able to significantly reduce the feeling of anxiety, while also slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling how the air fills the area of your abdomen going up to the top of the lungs and then slowly exhale (preferably through the mouth). Fortunately, you could easily do this at your desk without being noticed by your colleagues. There is no need to interrupt your work – you could go on with your tasks and just remind yourself to keep breathing deeply.
• Be careful with the caffeine intake! Limit the number of coffees and black teas throughout the day – while good for the health in moderate doses too much of them might deteriorate the stress resilience of your nervous system.
• If you really need it, there's nothing wrong with taking a ten-minute break to go outside the office. Walk for a while, clear your mind from the frustration, look at the scenery and remember that you could use your own perception of the situation to mitigate the stress effects.
• Additionally, you might use a book to help calm your nerves down – just six minutes of reading could relax your muscles, lower your heart rate and reduce stress levels by more than two thirds. You can find more about the effects of reading in this article of The Telegraph.
• And finally – don't let the everyday problems and small issues pile up and cloud your vision of your job's High purpose. Regularly remind yourself about the things you love about your work – your own development possibilities; making a difference to the society; helping the community etc.
These are some suggestions that you could directly use during your workday to mitigate the negative sides of your body's stress response. In one of our next posts we will also cover some long-term practices that you could incorporate into your lifestyle in order to build your stress resilience.
But what if we were to tell you that stress is only harmful if you believe it is? What if we told you that there is a simple way to turn stress into your ally? Stay tuned for our next articles in the series to find out more.
Best regards,

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