How to Convert Stress Into Positive Performance at Work

July 15, 2021
Izza A.

Work-related Stress

While mild work-related stress can actually be helpful at work, by keeping you focused and motivated, too much stress can have adverse effects. Feeling too much work-related stress can actually make your job harder, and make you less satisfied at work.

If you’re working a job that is not matched to your knowledge and abilities you may be stressed out trying to perform at a higher level than you’re really capable of. Or you may have responsibilities that don't suit you, and have to work hard to accomplish what should have been simple tasks for someone suited to the job. 

If your job places high demands on you for performance and productivity, this too can be difficult to cope with. Jobs in high stress environments does not necessarily mean a poor work environment, as long as employees feel supported. However, where the opposite is true, stress can become a much bigger problem.

Another factor that can make a stressful job unbearable is when employees feel like they have little to no control over work processes or schedules. Feeling overwhelmed with no way to control the pressure is a heavy burden on employees.

So, what can be done to help combat stress in the workplace? Here are some ways to convert stress into better performance at work:

1) Calming down helps us think better

When we get stressed out we naturally begin to breathe more shallowly. A tip for calming your body is to pull in a deep breath. Concentrating on deep breathing is an important part of disciplines like yoga and meditation because it slows the body down.

Smiling is another helpful tip. Even if you don’t feel particularly happy, it is scientifically proven that smiling will actually help you feel better. So, the next time you feel stressed, take a deep breath and smile.

2) Envision your success

When we feel anxious, it can be easy to think of everything that can go wrong. Instead of picturing disasters, try to envision yourself succeeding at the task at hand. Try to keep negative thoughts to a minimum.

Envisioning your own success will help you feel strong and capable. Adopt an opportunity mindset, every little thing that happens is an opportunity to respond positively. You can think about positive ways to respond, and work out a strategy to put them into motion.

3) Set realistic deadlines, and be disciplined about meeting them

Know yourself well enough to know how long it takes you to do a certain project, and set a realistic deadline for when you’ll be able to finish. Setting too short a deadline leads to overworking and frustration, and makes it difficult to get the task done within the timeframe.

If a task seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller pieces, and just focus on getting one piece done at a time. Sometimes, that is all it takes to make an overwhelming task bearable.

Realistic deadlines will also help you gain confidence and you won’t have to feel like you’re losing the battle before it’s even begun. You will also find it easier to deal with any issues that arise later.

4) Set work-life boundaries

Don’t think you can work constantly without taking time to take care of yourself. It doesn’t work and is likely to cause burn out. Instead, try to avoid bringing work home, including negative ruminating about work.

For those working from home, this can be harder because you are likely constantly in your new ‘workplace’. A good way to combat this is to separate your work space from your personal space if possible. It is also important to be disciplined in completely stepping out from work once your work day ends.

Also, do make sure you get enough sleep. Getting enough good sleep helps with concentration, emotional regulation, and makes it easier to deal with stress.

Why handling stress well is so important

Why do we need to work so hard at managing stress? Stress, especially chronic stress, is a heavy burden for our bodies to bear. You can get physically ill from long-term stress, on top of it affecting you mentally, leading to depression or anxiety disorders.

Pushing too hard for too long can lead to burnout, and once you get to that point it may take a very long time for your body to recover. 

So, what can you do when the stress becomes more than you can handle? Seek help from a licensed counsellor who can help you with your next steps. Stress doesn’t have to ruin your health or your life.

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