The stress we experience in our workplaces is often the result of much larger forces. According to the International Labor Organization, these include global challenges, such as climate change, terrorism, and political turmoil, or personal ones such as illnesses, job changes, and company restructuring. And we only have influence over some of these challenges.
As short-term solutions to the above, we switch careers, learn time management, use productivity apps, and what not. But, what is the way to manage stressors long term?
The answer lies in strengthening our inner world, rather than controlling our external world. Here’s something to get you started with that:
- Shift your lens around stress. Do you always find stress debilitating? That might be hindering you from managing it effectively. An alternative – look at each stress-inducing experience as a stepping stone to increase your capacity for managing the next stressor. Because with each experience, you gain more learning, change your perspective, and build skills like adaptability, emotional management, etc.
Says a Harvard study, when people understand that the physiological signs of stress prepare them to cope better, they become less anxious and more confident under stress. Their hearts and blood vessels also respond more calmly.
Ask yourself: What in me helped me successfully manage the last stressor I experienced?
- Trace how you learnt your responses. Like most behavior, the way we respond to stress is learnt from our family. Consider if they avoid challenges, panic, or if there are heated arguments during conflict. These patterns induce stress. And if you’ve grown up with any of them, it could be your go-to instinctual response, thus enhancing your stress in an already difficult situation.
Ask yourself: How can I seek additional support to build skills, so I can comfortably navigate conflict?
- Think, and then act. Finding consistent learning moments is crucial. Jot down three ways in which you might be learning something from the stress you’re experiencing. Be it managing emotions, or new interpersonal or technical skills. But don’t stop there. Convert the learning into action. Identify skills to strengthen, or solutions to experiment with. Researchers point out that analysis without action leads to rumination and anxiety.
Ask yourself: What are my takeaways here, be it big or small? How can I use them next time?
Building our inner landscape is a way to be resilient. Because no matter the technological advances, it is largely our human capacity that helps us navigate complexity. Are you game?