Work can create a lot of stress that builds up during the day. Sometimes you feel anger building up but you still need to control yourself at work. How can you get rid of it before you go home and it affects your relationships? This post will give you some tips on how to deal with your stress effectively.

Micromanaging yourself and planning at the end of the day

There are always periods during a project when things get intense with constant fires for you to put out, constant pressure and questions from your managers on when things will be done, encroaching deadlines and the added pressure of not having time for your continual development or personal commitments.

When you feel the pressure not going away at the end of the day, try taking these steps before you go home:

  1. Write out the things on your plate right now
  2. Choose what you will focus on tomorrow, what you can delegate and what will need to wait
  3. Break these down into smaller goals that you can achieve through the day
  4. Write up your goals for tomorrow
  5. This is your plan of attack for tomorrow; your aim is to have all this done by the end of the day and you tick off these goals as you achieve them.

This is called the sundown technique – write up your goals for the day and aim to get them done by the end of the day. This kind of micromanagement can also be used for teams to get back on track when a project is going really bad.

Having a plan will immediately take the pressure off and you’ll be feeling better on your way home. You’ll be able to leave work behind and have a happy time with your family.

Exercise and general health

Physical exercise is one of the most effective ways of relieving stress that I’ve come across. If you’re feeling stressed at work and can’t get things out of your mind, try:

  1. Go to the gym before coming home
  2. Go for a run immediately after dropping your bags at home
  3. Dedicate some time to exercise during the day, either in the morning or at lunch time.

Sleep and nutrition are also very important. Getting enough sleep will improve your ability to deal with stress without panicking or getting angry at those around you.

Long term – embrace stress

There’s a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal that gives a different perspective on handling stress. This video explains how to embrace stress rather than attempt to reduce it. The idea is that stress is only harmful to you if you perceive it that way. If you look at stress with a positive attitude and think “this experience is going to build my capability for the future”, “this tingly feeling is just my body preparing me for an increased performance”, you can embrace the feeling and use it to motivate you, rather than harming you.

Pursuing too many passions at once

Sometimes you find yourself pursuing multiple continual development topics in addition to your normal work and also multiple family commitments and other social commitments. This can lead to a situation where you are creating stress for yourself because all these things that you want to do will add to the increased number of tasks from work and the increased number of tasks from your family commitments – creating stress.

I read a newsletter from AE recently that likened pursuing too many passions with the story of Buridan’s Donkey. The story says that a Donkey who was equally hungry and thirsty was in between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. The Donkey was paralyzed and couldn’t decide which way to go. All that the Donkey needed to do was choose one – drink the water and then eat the hay.

Remember that you can achieve all your goals if you focus on them one at a time. Write down your non-work goals, breaking them up and treating them as continual development activities to which you allocate some of your time each day. This will set your mind at ease as you’ll know that you have a plan and will get there, so there’s no need to stress yourself by pursuing too many at once.

Remember beginning with the end in mind

A final word on this is to remember the habit of beginning with the end in mind. Thinking of when you are at the end – how will you want to look at your life? If you want to be a person who spent time helping and sharing with their family and helped others become better at their passions, then make sure your actions lead towards this. Remind yourself of this before you go home if you’re feeling stressed.

Do you have any techniques for handling stress in the short term or long term that you’ve found effective?