There’s nothing like workplace stress to let you know if your coping skills are up to par or not. Even if you love your job, you can’t avoid encountering work-related stress from time to time. It could be a looming deadline or difficult co-workers or maybe even a boss asking you to do something you feel is unethical. Therefore, knowing how to cope in such situations effectively benefits not only your professional life but your personal life as well. Job stress can be all-consuming, But by developing coping skills to support your career growth, it doesn’t have to be.
WHAT ARE COPING SKILLS?
According to VerywellMind.com, coping skills are behaviors that can help you “tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations in life.” Your personality and life experiences influence those behaviors. In other words, when confronted with a challenge, you use a coping strategy you learned and developed over the course of your life to help you “get through it.” While some of those strategies might be healthy, chances are pretty good that you also picked up some that are ineffective, counterproductive, and maybe downright harmful. Let’s look further at ways to develop coping skills.
START YOUR DAY OFF RIGHT
We all know our day begins in the home. Take a moment and think about how you feel when you get to work. How did your morning go? My kids are all grown now, but I can tell you there were some stressed filled mornings of getting everybody up, fed, lunches made, last-minute scrambles getting the kids on the bus where it felt like I was running through an obstacle course.
And how about the ride into work? Was I the only one getting held up behind people out for a scenic ride at 7:30 in the morning instead of trying to get to work on time? If this sounds like any of your mornings before you even get to work, you shouldn’t be surprised how that can affect any workplace stress you encounter. I’ll admit a little more prep work on my part the night before could have avoided some of the stress I experienced trying to get everyone out the door. So start your day with a plan, a good breakfast, and hopefully a positive attitude.
IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS
You have to know what is triggering the stress to understand how to deal with it. What sets you off may not necessarily bother your co-worker in the least though you are dealing with the same situation. Ironically, that very fact might cause you stress. An excellent way to track your triggers is to keep a journal and document the following:
- Problems that caused a negative response
- Where you were and who was involved
- How you responded
- Your thoughts and feelings
After a week or two of making notes, you should see what situations caused you the most stress and how you reacted to them? Did you raise your voice? Did you get angry? Procrastinate on a project? Did you reach for some junk food? Or maybe you took a short break and went for a walk. By looking at the patterns and your reactions to them, you will evaluate if you are healthily handling stress or if you need to develop some coping skills to help you.
DEVELOPING HEALTHY COPING SKILLS
1. Address the problem directly.
For example, instead of feeling overwhelmed by a heavy workload and feeling pulled in different directions, prioritize what needs to get done. Make a detailed schedule to help you stay on top of everything. Or maybe improve your time management skills.
2. Use positive self-talk to override the negative voice in your head.
For example, instead of reacting by saying, I’m losing it; I’ll never get this done; I can’t take it anymore; use affirmations that speak about a positive outcome. For example, This is hard, but I can do it; I have control over my thoughts, feelings, and choices; I’m going to make the best of this situation. Using these positive affirmations will cause your thoughts to move in a more healthy direction.
3. Take some time to ponder how you should respond.
When you are stressed and emotions go up, good judgment goes down; how a person perceives information influences their emotional reactions. If not managed effectively, those reactions often cause negative behaviors before they think about the consequences of their actions.
4. Build and use trusted relationships.
Talk with a trusted co-worker or friend about what you are dealing with. They may provide another point of view and offer suggestions on how to cope with the situation. When stressed, knowing you have someone you can turn to who will give you good advice and encourage you goes a long way toward bringing relief.
5. Utilize calming techniques such as breathing exercises.
Breathing is something we take for granted. However, it is also a powerful way to regulate your emotions. By breathing deeply, with a slow and regular inhalation to exhalation ratio, you will activate your parasympathetic nervous system signaling your body to calm down. Check these breathing exercises out.
KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP
As I said before, you won’t always avoid the stresses that occur on the job. But I do believe these five coping skills I’ve shared with you today will help you. However, if you would like to develop more coping skills to help you manage job stress and be more successful in the workplace, working with an anxiety coach is a great way to go.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. There are numerous coping skills that are helpful but not always one best way to proceed. Together we will figure out which type of coping skill is likely to work best for you in your personal situation.