Stress Awareness Day: Advice and Tips for the Modern Professional

Published on: 01-11-2017

Today is National Stress Awareness Day – an annual campaign run by the International Stress Management Association. Its aim is to promote a healthy work life balance and emphasise the importance of managing stress.

Adrem - Stress Awareness Day
Adrem - Stress Awareness Day ©

Creating balance between life at home and the office can be quite the juggling act nowadays and with such busy modern lives we can come to struggle with the pace of it. There are endless pressures on our time and such diverse reasons why our motivation and mental health may falter.

With all those complexities there’s definitely no magic formula that can suddenly bring balance; instead it’s something that must be nurtured. It takes work and conscious effort; it might mean sacrifice and it definitely requires diligence.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your perfect equilibrium will be challenged at times because our circumstance are never constant and not always ideal. It’s in these times though that with advice and support you can work your way back to centre.

To celebrate Stress Awareness Day we’ve compiled advice for three important topics relevant to modern working professionals. These are varied and related to both strategies for personal growth and wellbeing in the workplace.

Adrem - Stress Awareness Day
Adrem – Stress Awareness Day

Topic One : Handling Difficult Conversations at Work

Unfortunately difficult conversations in the work place are unavoidable. Be it disagreement, reprimand, performance review or complaint there are certain issues that can emerge in working relationships that make for uncomfortable confrontations.

When approaching these types of conversation it’s most important to avoid a combat mentality. Tough emotions can emerge when dealing with unpleasant issues; be it fear, anger, embarrassment or defensiveness and these can lead to aggressive reactions.

It’s important in such situations to focus on finding the middle ground rather than confronting your counterpart. Focus on an outcome rather than aggravating the situation and remember that “winning” is not a realistic outcome because it implies that your counterpart will “lose”, instead resolution should be the main goal.

If you aren’t the person initiating the conversation or if problems suddenly erupt then keep these basics in mind so that you don’t resort to ineffective or counterproductive habits;

Be clear about your content, keep your opinion concise and resolution orientated;

Maintain a neutral tone, becoming loud and aggressive will only aggravate the situation;

Be temperate with your phrasing, when we’re caught off guard it’s easy to make regretful comments, try as best as you can to make remarks mindfully.

Adrem - Stress Awareness Day
Adrem – Stress Awareness Day ©

Topic Two : Strategies to Cope with Information Overload

Given how accessible news and information is nowadays it’s easy to become fatigued by the relentlessness of it. From the minute we awake to the moment we fall asleep our minds are constantly stimulated, we are bombarded with decisions to make and information to process.

In making our lives more convenient and efficient we’re also inadvertently compounding the stress and anxiety by overwhelming every minute of our lives with action. In order to remedy this overload of information then we’ve put together our top strategies for a more balanced daily existence;

Honour In Between Space

Time in between our responsibilities; waiting time, time commuting, time spent preparing, used to be a moment of respite. It used to be time for idleness or mindlessness or dare I say boredom; instead today we fill it with entertainment or we make it more productive by doing peripheral work. As uncomfortable as it might be, try and avoid the temptation to fill that space in; give your mind a moments rest; perhaps enjoy boredom for a change.

Create Distraction Free Time

It is ridiculously easy to get distracted nowadays, with notifications, instant messaging, the endlessness of the internet; there are literally thousands of distractions everyday. It makes for such inefficient use of time and although it might seem insignificant to pay these distractions only a moment of attention in reality the time compounds more quickly than you might realise. It also means that your mind is constantly shifting focus which might seem irrelevant to the conscious mind, but subconsciously it’s mentally fatiguing.

Take Proper Breaks

Be honest; how often do you sit at your desk to eat lunch? There’s no shame in the answer either because quite frankly it’s become entirely commonplace. Rather than utilising break time to mentally recharge we’ve instead come to think that it can be more productively spent; either by continuing work, checking social media, browsing fashion trends or catching up on news. Much like those in between moments this is valuable time to restore mental clarity. Be diligent about getting away from your desk for however long you might be allowed; ideally venture outside for fresh air and to dispel any tension.

Adrem - Stress Awareness Day
Adrem – Stress Awareness Day ©

Topic Three : How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Never before has education and opportunity been so freely available; as a result though the professional working environment is very crowded and highly competitive. It’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd and to help in doing so we’ve noted down our thoughts about how in your workplace you might go about that.

Proactively engage your manager in discussions about career development; demonstrating your own initiative and ambition is always favourable. It’s the only means to exert influence beside performance and by making it a collaborative process you can clearly differentiate yourself from your colleagues.

Volunteer for challenging tasks or assignments. One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to identify organisational issues and propose a solution. These might including refining quality assurance processes, improving administrative practises, changing work routines, file management or even making suggestions about office culture. There are literally endless opportunities for improvement in any business; you only need to identify practical ways to make improvement and then champion the changes.

Enhance your performance. The reality of any position is that aspects of it will be challenging and in need of improvement. By being proactive though you can ready yourself for more responsibility and ultimately further career progression. Seek advice from managers and colleagues; those whose skills or careers you wish to emulate. Identify your different options to learn; whether that be courses, workshops, work-shadowing or mentoring. The more visible you make your efforts to improve ultimately the more favourable performance reviews will become.

For more tips and advice on other work life balance topics see tags below.

Written by: Samantha Woods