According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS for short), 40% of workers say that their job is very or extremely stressful. In fact, 3 in 4 employees are convinced that workers face more stress on-the-job now than they would have a generation ago. Workplace-related stress is not without consequences. Indeed, nobody leaves their stress at the door when they come back home. It can affect not only your health but also your relationship and your performance.

However, what we often fail to realize is that stress is avoidable. It is a deliberate answer to your surroundings or a specific situation. When you begin to understand that you are in charge of how you respond to an event, you also realize that the only person that’s causing stress at work is yourself. And this is an eye-opening revelation!

Here are four ways to remind yourself that you are always in choice in how you respond to work stresses.

One – You Can Choose to Stop at Anytime

Stop? But how can I stop, you say. Understandably, we need to work to make a living. Those bills aren’t going to pay themselves. But, listening to someone like Karan Bajaj could be the inspiration you need to reclaim your sanity. Indeed, Karan is an Indian novelist who has established a 4-1-4 method of taking one year off for every four years of work. The process is not only liberating for mental health, but it’s also what is fueling his ability to remain creative and productive over time. It’s worth experimenting with the idea of taking regular breaks, whether as sabbatical periods like Karan or simply as introducing a new work pace.

Two – Remember That Mistakes are for Learning Rather than Blaming

We all have an oops moment when we belatedly realize the enormity of what we’ve done. Wait, have I just deleted the entire database? Needless to say, while those things aren’t fun, they shouldn’t be an opportunity to blame yourself or others. When things go wrong, you should thrive to see it as a lesson for yourself and your team. What could you improve to prevent a similar mistake from happening again? This approach will create a sense of emotional safety.

Three – You Don’t Have to Know it All

Let’s be clear about it: You can’t be an expert at everything. In other words, it’s okay not to know something. If you admit that you don’t know, you may find the process soothing and surprisingly helpful too. Saying you don’t know can even create a trust bond, especially if you follow up with the promise to find out. Depending on the situation, you can also encourage co-workers to find the answer themselves. After all, that is precisely what Google is for.

Four – Conflict Doesn’t Have to Be Your Default Go-To 

A difference in opinions or perceptions doesn’t have to end in a stressful conflict. If you are able to de-escalate the situation, you can use it productively and keep it within professional boundaries. Liana Davey, team effectiveness advisor, recommends visualizing the value of role-based tensions. On the other hand, Amy Gallo, communicator extraordinaire, suggests adapting your communication style to the personality of your interlocutors.

Adapting the way you respond to high-pressure situations can help you move forward and reduce stress levels. Sometimes, being able to take a break can help recharge your battery and relax. But sometimes, challenging your attitude to conflicts and tensions can also achieve a similar effect.

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