Struggling to cope with stress in the workplace? We take a look at two stressful scenarios and offer solutions and tips. 

How to combat work stress



Type A

» the problem: You just can’t keep your mind off pressing work matters, to the point where it interferes with the rest of your life.

» Solution: You need to develop techniques to enable you to ‘switch off’ when you walk out of the office (sure, you may need to switch back on when answering phone calls and emails, but make sure these periods are brief). For this you’ll need two things: your chosen form of relaxation and a dose of positive visualisation.

“Relaxation is the opposite response of the body and mind to the stress response,” says Dr Cate Howell, mental health specialist and author of Release Your Worries. “Relaxation techniques require practice, but we only need to invest 10 to 20 minutes regularly to see the benefits.”

Incorporating visualisation techniques into your meditation/yoga/tai chi/ice-cream practice is a great way of freeing the mind from work stress.

“Make yourself comfortable and imagine doing what you enjoy most,” says Dr Howell. “For example, in the bath you can see the flicker of the candle flames, you may smell the scent of the bubble bath, perhaps you can hear some soft, relaxing music in the background, you can feel the warmth of the water covering your whole body. Visualising the beach, notice the blue sky, the fluffy clouds, a gentle breeze, the warmth of the sun and sand, and the smell of the ocean.”

An ongoing practice has been shown to have ongoing benefits – alleviating stress throughout your day.

Type B

» the problem: You can’t seem to get people to take your career and aspirations seriously.

» Solution: Stand up for yourself. Take yourself seriously and others are likely to do so also. If they’re being downright disrespectful, don’t laugh it off, let them know.

“Some people may provide some resistance to the changes you are trying to make because they are getting some kind of benefit from the old you, or perhaps they just don’t like change,” says Dr Howell.

“When speaking assertively, it is important to stand or sit in an upright position and not to fidget. Have an open body posture (no folded arms or crossed legs), speak in a clear and calm tone of voice and use eye contact.”

Type C

» The problem: You’ve lost a major contract at work, and it gnaws away at you, but you don’t want to burden anybody by sharing it with them.

» Solution: Your friends and family are not just there for the good times, they’re there to provide much needed support and stress release.

“You may be surprised how supportive other people in your life can be,” says Dr Howell.

Your vent can also be used to shape how you want to think about the issue at hand.

“Each time you catch people up on the new developments in your life you are reinforcing your preferred story by performing it over and over again to a supportive audience specially selected by you,” says Dr Howell. “Gaining an audience to unique outcomes is a powerful step to use to shape your own life.”