Workplace Stress Management and the Power of Habits

by Stephanie Goddard

Workplace Stress Management is an art, a skill. It takes conscious effort and work if we want to become a stress management guru and finally regain the feeling of ease and calm that we all strive for. In order to start working towards the goal of improving stress management in the workplace we need to start making a few habits.

“Instead of setting goals, set habits. Look at your repeated actions and decide if these are getting you the results you want”.

The problem was not so much the activity as the mindset seeing the goal as a thing to be achieved like an item on a “to-do” list. Just wanting to check off the “errand” and get back to the fun stuff. Consequently, we see the goal as a burden, a chore, and our enthusiasm to be better at stress management in the workplace goes out the window. Only after switching our thoughts about the goal, to rather creating a new habit, can we have that much-needed shift. This shift allows for increased enthusiasm, an ease in completing a day’s activities, and, finally, results.

If 90 percent of our workplace activities are habits, as ’The Power of Focus’ says, then what habits do we want/need to set in place to achieve the results we want? This thinking makes a huge difference in getting results, and managing workplace stress.

Here are some things that can change and improve your stress management at work and build resilience:

  • When you have setbacks, don’t tell yourself what an undisciplined person you are or give up altogether in an attempt to seek perfection. Realize that your old habit is just still more ingrained than your new one. This will simply take more repetition of the new habit until the old is “erased”. This point is key in helping to boost your workplace stress management!
  • Once you get passed the typical three to four week period that establishes a habit, you will find the new habit harder to break. Your “mental tug” will not be to the old behaviour, but the new one.
  • You created the old habit, and you can reprogram yourself to follow the new one instead. For instance, has anyone just loved wine at the first taste? How about cigarettes? These “habits” took effort to become a way of life. Let’s face it: these things taste awful and probably had nauseating effects at first. And yet, those who have these habits pushed passed the negative side effects in the beginning to establish a love and even a need for the behaviour! Why can’t anyone do the same for, say a workout?

So my suggestion to start building resilience to your workplace stress is to start taking an account of your current habits (not your current failures or lack of progress). Then insert the new habits needed to change your results. The bad habits you have in place feel “normal” because you have done them over and over. Changing your behaviour for at least three to four weeks will feel very odd, but so did the current habits during the first few weeks.

You may not remember your initial struggle with a habit that isn’t providing current-day benefits, but it’s likely the struggle existed. Even if you can swear there was no effort, the negative side effects were likely there and ignored and your stress management was compromised.(How could a potato chip cause a zit? Can’t be true! Let’s break out the Lays!).

Once your new workplace habits start providing the good benefits, they will become even more ingrained. That will be all the motivation you will need to keep the new habit and lose the old one when temptation comes around.

Our lives are created from what we do every single day. So take the time and write down the habits that you feel will help you to be organised, focused and productive and reduce your workplace stress.

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