Are you haunted by the question “How to manage stress at work”? Have you ever deliberately avoided your boss because you had an anxiety-provoking reaction with her? Have you withdrawn from social situations when you’re feeling down? If so, doing so may actually slow down your productivity or your ability to bounce back to natural happiness levels. This may cause you to continue to be more anxious or sad, sending you in a downward emotional spiral.
Stressful emotions and stress at work can cause us to react to the situation by avoiding, attacking, or shutting down. Though these reactions seem like the natural thing to do, in the long run they don’t actually benefit us and may cause more stress. This is why it is important to manage stress at work.
How to Manage Stress at Work – the “outside-in” Approach
Elena Wright Mayville, clinical psychology researcher at Yale University, recommends the “outside-in” approach to manage stress at work. The outside-in approach is the practice of doing an action opposite of what you would instinctively do.
For example, if you were avoiding your boss because you were feeling anxious, the opposite action would be to seek out your boss. Unlike what we would instinctively do (letting your stressful emotions dictate your external behavior), the “outside-in” approach is acting first and then allowing your internal emotions to catch up with the non-stressful action you’ve taken.
By doing so, you train your emotions to align with actions that serve you better in the long run, leading you to be more productive, social, and happy in general. You’ll still need to fully feel what you are feeling – the difference is in the way you respond. Think of it as an exercise in mindfulness in action! It is not easy, and it may not be for everyone, but if you master it, you will feel more in control of your response to stressful emotions and life will seem like less of a struggle.
This is a challenging exercise! Doing it consistently will strengthen your ability to manage stress at work and respond with peace. Remember, insight without action is useless, so try it the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation.
The “outside-in” approach can be one answer to the question “How to manage stress at work?” What is your answer – how do you manage stress at work – please share your tips in the comments below.
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By Catherine Chen. Catherine Chen is a certified Health Coach for busy professionals who want more energy and time to do what they love. Sign up to receive tips from Catherine at www.catherinechenwellness.com
Photo: Evil Erin