We all know that feeling of relief when we walk out the door of our workplace and leave all the stress behind. But unfortunately, that stress doesn’t disappear just because we’ve left work. Persistent stress can lead to chronic stress in the body and physical symptoms from headaches to serious diseases. That’s why it’s important to learn how to deal with emotional stress at work. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, as different things work for different people.
However, there are some general tips that can help anyone learn how to deal with emotional stress at work better.
First and foremost, it’s important to become aware of your thinking throughout the day. Where do your thoughts go? One of the easiest ways to start doing this is to pay attention to how you feel because your feelings will lead you to your thoughts if you are willing to explore them. For example, what is going on around you if you’re frustrated, and how are you thinking about it? If a person or a situation triggers you, you’ve likely been down this road before. When you have an immediate reaction to someone or something, it’s a pattern of thinking and feeling that you’ve created and are familiar with, and now you are conditioning yourself to repeat it.
Why? Because it’s what you know, so it’s what you do. So, now it’s time to interrupt the pattern if you’d like to have a less stressful reaction. Ask yourself, “Who am I being in this moment?” Pay attention to what your answer is—empowered or disempowered? Stop, dig underneath the surface, and figure out who you are being in this moment. Now, ask yourself, what do you want instead.
This may seem like a small shift, but it can make a big difference in how you feel. For example, if you’re dreading going into a meeting because you’re worried about what will be said, try reframing it by focusing on what outcome you’d like to see instead. For example, “I’m looking forward to this meeting because I want to know more about the project.” Then, create the vision of how you want to show up differently, and start putting energy into that vision!
Second, our emotions are trying to tell us something. So next time you’re feeling stressed, try to listen to what your emotions are telling you. Likely, some underlying thoughts or beliefs about yourself are contributing. Maybe it’s a grudge against a coworker or boss, or perhaps it’s self-doubt about our abilities. Either way, stress is a sign that we need to make a change because you always have a choice in how you react to people and situations.
It could be that you are under a lot of pressure to succeed, and sometimes that pressure can feel overwhelming. It can cause you to ignore your boundaries and give more and more until you’re depleted. If you’re finding that your emotions are particularly intense at work, it might be time to look at your boundaries (or lack thereof) and see what needs to be reinforced. You get to choose yourself; no one else will do it for you.
You might not be able to control everything that happens at work, but you can control your reaction and your perspective.
Third, take some time for yourself and figure out what you need to do to forgive, release, and let go. This is the inner work. It might take a little while, but trust me when I say that it’s so worth it.
When we’re stressed, we’re often holding onto something that we need to let go of. Emotions are energy in motion, after all, and if we are holding onto them, we are destined to feel them again and again because we don’t let them go anywhere. Emotions are meant to be experienced and let go, not ignored, stuffed down, or powered through. We feel them for a reason, and suppressing them only makes things worse in the long run. Get in the habit of becoming aware of when you need to release the negative baggage you’re carrying around. My go-to process is contained in this meditation playlist I’ve created for you. You can download it HERE.
Remember, we feel what we feel for a reason. Our emotions are trying to tell us something. We can learn more about ourselves and what we need to feel our best by listening to them.
For instance, if you see the same person the same way every time, you’ve likely labeled them that way in your mind, and now your mind is conditioned to identify them that way and react the same way each time. That’s how our brain works. It’s efficient and likes to find a way to do something until it becomes a habit (yes, even with our thoughts). But it’s not necessarily the best experience for you. If the other person twists you up, you are the one holding the short end of the stick. And, if they produce that sort of reaction within you, then there is something inside of you that it is reacting with.
I also love the process of Ho’oponopono, which is the Hawaiian Forgiveness process that I learned as part of my Huna studies. When it comes to the people that trigger you, forgiveness is the tool to learn! Forgiveness allows you to let go of the emotions that make you feel awful. Forgiveness is the way for you to get unstuck because you are no longer anchored to the past. Forgiveness empowers you to live your life and navigate your career on your terms. Forgiveness isn’t about who is right or wrong. It’s not about saying what happened was ok. It’s about healing for you so you can move forward. Here’s a meditation you can download to help you forgive and move on! You can download it HERE.
I hope this article provides some Clarity and peace as you go through your day today so your mind isn’t constantly thinking about the past or future–worrying about what could have been or what will be. Instead, you deserve to live in the present moment and focus on what’s happening right now.