handle stress better fit working mom blog

5 Steps On How To Handle Stress Better at Work

We all have to deal with stressful situations on a daily basis at work. Everyone’s work is different so If you are a working moms, work from home moms or stay at home mom you too are likely to be faced with stressful situations at work.  Handling stressful situations does not always come naturally to all of us but with a bit of conditioning you can change the way you react to stress. The two predominant ways to handle stress can be to either to;

Over Function

By definition, putting form over function means you sacrifice function-you make it harder to perform whatever task is supposed to be performed. You give up ease of use or simplicity in order to make it look nicer. Basically, you wind up with a lot of icing and no cake.

Under Functioning

Underfunctioning is when emotions take the lead over productivity. Underfunctioningpeople’s response to stress can make them look like they are experiencing lower performance, a desire to have others help or take over, and/or challenges managing their emotions.

Real Example

I work with a wonderful young lady, Lara, you will still get to know her.  Her first response to a high pressure situation is over-functioning.  She tries to fix it and tries to rectify whatever the high pressure situation is immediately and perfectly. Too perfectly. She sometimes over looks a simpler route simply because her default is over functioning.   I too, am often guilty of this.

I have a different approach (I am much better now) but I under function.  When presented with a high pressure situation I can’t get anything done because there is too much going on in my mind.   I don’t want to take action and end up procrastinating on the call I have to make or the email I want to send out.  

So which one is the right way to handle a stressful situation?  Neither. 

Step One.  Know if you are an over or under-functioner  

This is what sets the human race apart from animals.  We are able to watch ourselves from the outset and realize what we are doing.  It is called self-awareness.  We have the capability but we don’t always use it.   If you are able to, during a stressful situation, take a step back and look at yourself and say; “Ok, I am not doing anything or over doing something” And “what are the necessary steps I need to take to handle this better”  You have already won the battle half-way.  

Step Two Breathe

This is the number one most important way to deal with stress and to de-compress before taking action.  I recommend 10 deep breaths from when you get the news or when you are confronted with the situation before taking any action whatsoever.  Whether it is responding to confrontation, sending an angry email or giving and instruction.  The reason for this is your body does not know the difference between a real life threat and a seemingly stressful situation.  

What happens is your brain is telling you to get out but you are not necessarily making the right decision.  You end up saying things you did not mean and sending emails you wish you retract or giving someone a PK that you can’t take back. 

Step 3 Ask Questions

How many times have you been presented with very dramatic news but half of the information was left out?  Information that have you known, it would not have been so dramatic to hear or stressful at all.  No fault of yours of course, you just get people who enjoy a bit of drama and reactions to drama.  It makes them tick.  So next time you are presented by news of your husband at lunch with the secretary, immediately breathe (this will defuse half the anxiety and then ask questions;

When did you see him?  Did you go speak to him?  What did he say?  How did you know it was him?  Where?  How did you know it was the secretary?  What were they doing?  By this time, the likelihood that you have found out that there were actually three people, the secretary was there to take notes, it was not actually even him or he was there on a business meeting is very likely to be the case.  Being over reactive would have caused irrational reactions and sometimes irreparable damage to a relationship or situation.

Step 4 Make a Calculated Decision and Follow Through

Once you have breathed, realized how you are functioning, you have asked all the questions and you have all the information you need you can pro-actively address the issue immediately and decisively.

Step 5 Give Yourself Grace

It is important to know that no matter what the outcome of the situation, you have done the best of your capabilities. It is helpful to adopt the Alcoholics Anonymous Mantra. Change the situations you are able to, accept the situations you cannot change and be wise enough to know the difference. With your heart settled into this mantra you can approach each problem knowing that no matter what happens, things will work out ok.

These steps are usually my go to under stressful situations at home, work and in my personal life.  I have a very keen self-awareness on how I handle situations.   I am by far not perfect and only human but have really learned to handle things a lot better than what I have in the past.  

Other resources how to recognise over functioning and how to deal with it, article in Forbes

One of my other favourites is Brene Brown and this is what she says about over and under functioning.

I have also written another article about Stress and weight-loss here