Detach from drama.
the whole human

10 ways to survive constant stress at work

The world is groaning for authentic, powerful, compassionate, and wise leaders. No matter what your ranking on the corporate ladder, you can make a profound footprint in this world.

You may want to make a contribution. But with all the noise, you might also just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head.

Too often stress threatens to make us all crazy. How can you stop it?

Remember that what you focus on increases. When you focus on the division, hatred, outside stressors, or even something as mundane as the deadlines for your projects at work, those ideas expand in your consciousness. The girl in the next cubicle popping her gum. The guy who just stands in your doorway and wants to talk. The gossip at the water cooler. The group of office personnel that excludes you from their chatter.

The outside stressors, noise, and confusion are really not the problem. (Yes, I can hear you groaning.) The problem is how you think about them and the importance you place on them. The solution begins with getting grounded and putting down deep strong roots that hold you steady when the winds of fortune blow against you.

Here are 10 principles that can help you regain your sanity and help you strengthen your internal locus of control so that the outside things don’t bother you as much.

1. Get grounded

Establish some sort of grounding practice that makes you aware of your connection to all that is. This could be in the form of meditation, prayer, or breathing exercises. Learn to be still and listen to the wisdom inside you.

You can close the door of your office for five minutes and regain your footing by closing your eyes and connecting to the quiet. It will help your day start off on a more secure and calmer note.

2. Know your true identity

When you know that you are connected to life itself, and all the love and joy, peace and wisdom, creativity and abundance that dwells there, you begin to understand that you are those things and that foundation is your true nature.

When you know that you are secure in your connection to all that is, that you can’t be destroyed because at your core your are valuable and loved and eternal, it’s much harder to get knocked off balance by someone’s passing opinion or even a job change or criticism.

3. Nurture awareness

When you slow down from the craziness and confusion, you can begin to see things from other perspectives without losing your identity.

For example, you can see that that anger from your coworker is their problem, and you don’t have to react to it. You can begin to approach deadlines with less panic and more questions like, “What can I do about that at this moment?”

4. Just breathe

Taking a breath when you feel stressed, angry or offended will provide a small sliver of space between you and the problem. That momentary pause will allow you to consider an alternate action or response.

When things get stressful, just take a walk to the bathroom and spend a few minutes focusing on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling until you feel calm again. You can even focus on your breathing when things get tense in a meeting, and no one will ever know.

5. Respect yourself

Respecting yourself first will enable you to genuinely see people as worthy of respect as well, changing the way you respond to them and limiting an “us and them” philosophy.

You can begin to see yourself as a valuable part of a team, just as valuable as every other member, confident in your contribution and role.

6. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude habitually actually changes your brain, as does meditation.

If you are tempted to rage inside about what an idiot your coworker is, or what a sociopath your boss is, try to think of three things about them or the situation that you are grateful for.

7. Limit judgments

This principle will help you be less judgmental. Letting people just be who they are without judgment, limits stress immediately. We don’t have to change or fix anyone. Not everyone is going to do things the same what you think they should be done, but rather than judging them, become curious.

Adopt the position of being able to learn something new instead of criticizing something you don’t know or understand. Ask questions instead of stating opinions.

8. Detach from drama

Don’t react to anger with anger or judgment with judgment or an attack with defensiveness. That just fuels the fire.

If there is tension in the office or your boss is yelling at you, take a deep breath and respond with a calm assurance that other people’s anger is not your anger and you don’t have to jump down that rabbit hole with them.

9. Communicate effectively

Don’t waste your time focusing on what someone should know about what you want. Tell them. Ask for what you want. Kindly. Not sarcastically. Not angrily. Just tell them. Ask if they heard you correctly. Assume nothing. Because you know your true value, you can feel confident about asking for a promotion or raise.

The worst thing they can say is no and there’s a chance they might say yes! If you have a particular interest in another role, knowing that your strength lies there, offer to help in another capacity. No one can offer your unique abilities but you.

10. Forgive quickly

Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiving doesn’t mean that there should be no consequences or that what the other person did was right. It simply relieves you of the weight and burden of the need for revenge.

If someone starts a rumor about you, or is jealous of you and causes trouble, recognize that this is their problem, not yours. Let it go. Don’t let them ruin your life by causing you to seethe in anger and resentment; those emotions only make you less productive and take away from your valuable contribution at the office. When you get passed over for a promotion, learn to let it go, asking yourself, what you can do from now on that will move you toward your goals.

Keep moving forward. Resentment stifles your flow.

Marianne Clyde is the author of Zentivity™: How to Eliminate Chaos, Stress, and Discontent in Your Workplace .