We all suffer from stress at work from time to time. Of course the stress of being a surgeon and having life and death in your hands is different from the stress of having your computer crash when you are chasing a deadline.
But it doesn’t matter how different it is. When it’s your stress, it’s often difficult to manage and it’s awful.
We know how it affects us – we get panicked, we get snappy, we find it hard to concentrate, we get headaches, we reach for the chocolate – in any number of ways. But the question is, how does it affect the people around us?
Stress turns nice into nasty.
David was a colleague of mine and a nicer man you couldn’t find anywhere. He was a kind and considerate workmate, always helpful and supportive. But when he was stressed he turned into a very nasty individual – a sharp tongued, spiteful bully and very difficult to work with. He carried with him an aura of aggression and unpleasantness that was evident in his body language and even in the way he walked. It felt like he was on the prowl for trouble and anyone he came across was in the firing line. The effect this had on both his work and the people around him was devastating. His colleagues avoided him, they became uncooperative and defensive, his own work suffered as he couldn’t depend on his staff, and in his wake, he left behind many completely undeserved hurt feelings. We could only guess at what happened when he got home.
While whatever is stressing you out is mostly out of your control, your behaviour towards other people shouldn’t be. Seek help and support. Your colleagues will come to your aid. Don’t let your stress destroy the relationships you have built up by aiming your anger, insecurity and frustrations at people who do not deserve it. Learn to control it and avoid confrontations.
An article in Forbes magazine offered this advice:
- Act rather than react – take control of aspects of your situation that are controllable
- Take a deep breath – deep breathing for a minute or two can help you focus and manage those feelings of panic
- Eliminate interruptions – apply some structure to your working day
- Schedule some breaks in your day to walk around, stretch or do some breathing exercises
- Eat right and sleep well