Stress and worry on the job can be harmful! They can hurt your physical and emotional health as well as your job performance.
You can learn to avoid your stress-building thoughts and replace them with alternative stress-busting thoughts! "Stress-busting" is all about getting your thoughts back on a reassuring track and regaining your rational perspective on the situation.
Below is a list of common stress-building beliefs and attitudes. Review them to see if any seem to describe you.
- Do you feel a constant pressure to achieve?
- Do you criticize yourself when you're not perfect?
- Do you feel you haven't done enough no matter how hard
- Do you give up pleasure in order to be the best in everything
- Do you have to be perfectly in control at all times?
- Do you worry about how you appear to others when you are nervous?
- Do you feel that any lack of control is a sign of weakness or failure?
- Are you uncomfortable delegating projects to others?
- Does your self-esteem depend on everyone else's opinion of you?
- Do you sometimes avoid assignments because you're afraid of disappointing your boss?
- Are you better at caring for others than caring for yourself?
- Do you keep most negative feelings inside to avoid displeasing others?
- Do you feel you can never do as good a job as other people?
- Do you feel your judgment is poor?
- Do you feel you lack common sense?
- Do you feel like an impostor when told your work is good?
One way to reduce the level of stress in your life is to actively turn away from negative stress-building thoughts like those described above and to concentrate instead on positive stress-busting ways of thinking.
Here are some examples of how to replace a stress-building message with a stress-buster:
Stress Builder: "I'll never get this project in on time."
Stress Buster: "If I stay focused and take it one step at a time, I'll make steady progress."
Stress Builder: "My supervisor didn't say good morning. He's probably displeased with my work, and I'll get a bad evaluation."
Stress Buster: "I'm jumping to conclusions. My supervisor may have been in a bad mood. So far all my evaluations have been positive, so unless I get some negative feedback, I'll assume my supervisor is pleased with my work."
Stress Builder: "I can't get my mistake on page 53 out of my mind. The paper is ruined. I have disappointed everyone."
Stress Buster: "No one is perfect. I did my best. I'm overreacting to one mistake when the overall report is fine."
When you are under stress, what messages are you sending yourself? Are they alarming or reassuring? You can decrease your stress by learning to talk to yourself in a reassuring way.
Combating negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones takes practice, but the results are worth it. Your ability to handle difficult challenges in the workplace will improve and the benefits will transfer over into other areas of your life as well.
Adapted from "Stress Busters" by Shirley Babior, LCSW and Carol Goldman, LICSW.