Are you feeling really panicked, stressed out, or fed up? With dead week and finals week right around the corner, how could you not be? Well hold it in a little longer and then this Saturday, let it all out! Each year on March 9th Americans celebrate National Panic Day. Panic and stress are part of our everyday lives and unfortunately, you can probably count on experiencing them even more once you start your first full-time career-related position.
You may be feeling like college is so hard that anything else will be easy in comparison, that once you let go of all those topics you don’t care about, and once you aren’t trying to balance so many extra-curricular activities, coursework, and a healthy social life, sometimes in addition to a part-time job, then you will be able to relax and just focus on your one new job. Well what we must realize is that this will be a whole new environment, with all new people to feel out and engage with and impress. You will also most likely really care about this job and being successful within your new company. In college you could start fresh every term and did not have to worry about getting fired for making a little mistake or having average or below average performance.
I do not mean to discourage you, most people love being out in the “real world” and it is that hope that you will continue doing well and be able to stay long term that this stress or panic comes from. What you need are some great tools in your belt to help you handle that work related stress or panic!
First, it is important to know some of the common causes of stress or panic in the workplace. That way you can handle them before they really start to bother you.
- Miscommunication with your boss or coworkers
- Increased pressure to perform without receiving increased job satisfaction
- Being expected to give your fully best effort EVERY SINGLE DAY
- Workplace bullying (less frequent, but it does happen, in multiple ways)
- Some jobs are just more stressful – like when big decisions need to be made that will affect a lot of other people, or constantly working under a deadline.
Here are some of the most highly recommended tips in dealing with stress and panic on the job. They may seem really simple but have been proven to make a difference, so take them seriously:
- Breathing Exercises: Stop your work for a while and take some deep breaths. This will help clear your head so you can put things in perspective. Deep breathing combined with some light stretching helps to calm your body and has been proven to decrease stress.
- Take short breaks: You do not always need to be glued to your desk to be efficient at work or be seen as efficient by your coworkers. Get up and take a little walk or pick up a book for ten minutes. Do not think about your work tasks during this time. Again, it is all about rejuvenating yourself and clearing your head.
- Prioritize: Make a list of all those things buzzing around in your head that you have to do, then decide which ones are the most important and put them in this order. Next, allot a certain amount of time for each one and make a point of getting it done in that amount of time! This will help you pace yourself, and make you let go of a really difficult task once you have given it your best effort.
If you are panicked due to a certain situation, or in dealing with another individual, here are some tips for calming yourself down:
- Keep smiling: Just keep a smile on that face! The research proves that you can fool even yourself by keeping a smile on your face. When you are happy you smile, but it also works in reverse. Doing your best to make a genuinely happy face will trigger that emotion inside you.
- Take a time-out: Apply the 10-second rule. It helps to just have a quick moment to gather your thoughts before you react. Swallow down that quick snap, literally swallow, and ask someone to hold for just a moment. Maybe go to the bathroom. Just grit your teeth and focus on that time to remove yourself.
- Use the other person’s name: Using names makes everyone feel more responsible for their actions and makes everyone feel more connected to the conversation. It will also make you sound more sincere. Studies have also shown that saying someone’s name helps you to be more empathetic and really acknowledge the other person’s point of view.
- Remember, taking graceful action is empowering! If the other person is acting immature or out-of-control, it will make you feel more in control of the situation to be the bigger person.
- Vent outside of work: Write your feelings down then destroy the evidence. Share your woes with a patient friend, but be sure to let them share their problems with you as well. Ask someone you trust for an objective assessment of the situation. Then pat yourself on the back for rising above!
It is important to let go of your stress or anger at the end of each day. The nice thing about most jobs is that you do not have “homework,” so make sure you recognize that time outside of work is you-time, and do not let your to-do list distract you.
If you would like more tips about how to manage stress in the workplace, then check out this great posting on Helpguide.org
And of course, if nothing else works then just let it out! Saturday – run around in circles, pull your hair out, and exclaim “I can’t take it anymore!” Panic Day is your day!
Posted by Casey Anderson, Career Services Assistant