Workplace stress remains one of the most common causes of stress for most people, according to the American Psychological association. And, as nearly every African American woman knows, working while black and female saddles us with a much higher rate of on-the-job strain.
We are required to not only be excellent at our jobs, while under higher rates of scrutiny than white employees, but also endure near constant pressure to work against cultural stereotypes and code-switch for acceptance, while fighting for parity in salaries and promotions. Here we are in 2017, and white employers are even still obsessed with forcing us to straighten our hair.
It’s enough to make you want you give up your corporate gig to open a juice bar and pray you succeed. But, before you walk away from your hard-earned paycheck and benefits, consider these five tips for handling workplace stress, while in the office, since you can’t just break out your yoga mat in a meeting if someone calls you out of your name.
Writing for Healthday, stress management expert James Porter, founder of StressStop.com shared these tips:
▪ Cognitive restructuring. First, accept that your own thinking may play a huge role in how you think about stress. When your boss asks you to work late on a Friday night and you say to yourself: That jerk is ALWAYS asking me to work late, this kind reaction greatly adds to your stress. Start to notice your inner dialogue and quickly learn to evaluate it. If it isn’t 100 percent accurate, restate it in a more accurate way: My boss doesn’t always ask me to work late. Last week he let me go home early when I wasn’t feeling well.
▪ Take three deep breaths. When your stress response has been triggered, deep breathing can activate the relaxation response.
▪ Let it go. If something or someone bothers you at work, just decide — for your own benefit — to let it go. Let’s say your boss, for the most part, is fair with you and your co-workers. But on this one occasion, he or she says something that’s out of line. When that happens give your boss a free pass. Assume he or she didn’t mean to put it that way and let it go. You’ll be the one to benefit: holding a grudge can be poisonous. Don’t do it.
▪ Use humor. The next time something really stressful happens to you, see how quickly you can turn the pain into a funny anecdote. If it normally takes you a few hours to put a stressful event in perspective, see if you can cut that time in half.
▪ Put the problem aside and come back to it later. Let’s say you’re having difficulty with a project you’re working on. At a certain point your frustration becomes so great you find it’s difficult to even think clearly. When that happens, put the project aside for awhile and start on something else. This works especially well for problems that come up at the end of the day, and can wait until the next morning to be resolved. If you have this option, take it. Go home, have a relaxing evening, don’t think about the problem at all, and you’ll almost always be amazed at the creative solutions you come up with the next morning, when you’re refreshed.
And I would like to add, don’t forget the power of prayer or meditation. You may not be able to do it at your desk, but if you step away for few moments (just outside) calling your spiritual beliefs can have a tremendous impact on how you handle stress and strain. Last, remember “this too shall pass.” No job lasts forever, you are bound to have brighter days ahead.