How to reduce stress in workplace and life
What is stress? Stress, according to definition in physics, is load per unit area. The stress becomes more either if the load is more or if the load bearing area is less. Stress in life can also be fitted to this definition. If the load a person takes -- be it work in the profession or the responsibilities carried in life -- increases and his “bearing area”, namely, mental capacity to take up the “load” is limited, he gets more stressed!
So, to reduce stress, either work load must be reduced or mental capacity or resilience to bear the load has to be increased. Here are seven ways to reduce stress based on the above simple generic idea:
Tone Down Ambitions
Wants create desires; desire, when fueled with more and more wants, grows into ambition and then to greed. Western concept of growth measures success by external (materialistic) achievements and it encourages ambition as a desirable quality; on the other hand, eastern concept of growth encompasses spiritual growth which measures success by peace, contentedness and tranquility.
Ambition is the mother of stress. The more ambitious you are, the more you load yourself with work, responsibilities and challenges. If you want to cut out stress, you must tone down your ambitions; reduce your goals. If you are all along running and consequently panting, switch over to walking!
Don’t be a Perfectionist
Doing something to the best of your ability is different from being a perfectionist. Doing something to 99% perfection will be most acceptable in many cases in comparison with 100% perfection as per your own standards.
Perfectionists become insatiable; they lose time in perfecting something and in this process, fall behind committed schedules; falling behind time schedules puts the perfectionist under more pressure and consequently more stress.
Perfectionists find delegation too difficult. When things are done by someone else who does not live up to the standards, he gets upset, irritated and worked up - he gets stressed.
The way out is to tone down standards from “impeccable” to “tolerable”; accepting and digesting some amount of imperfection from yourself and also from others can pave the way for a drastic reduction in stress.
Very knowledgeable and efficient people get stressed too much because they think only they know the nitty-gritty of doing the task. Delegation requires recruiting the right people to work for them; training them up well to handle the task; giving them enough power and freedom to act; having a trust in their capacity of output; providing quality checks; and above all tolerating some amount of imperfection, as already said earlier.
If you are stressed and you are not in a position to delegate simply because you can’t afford to (due to financial or other constraints), then you should not bite off more than you can chew. You must take up only that much of work which you can do well within the committed time. YOu should never undertake fresh work where there is excessive pressure already on timely delivery, quality or quantity in your previously committed workload.
Your life, living standards, goals and ambitions, tastes, luxuries, likes and dislikes - are yours. Your neighbor or colleague need not be a bench mark for you to compare or compete with. His financial status, social status or spending pattern need not be yours. If you have to compare at all, you should rather compare yourself with those who are less privileged than you, with those whose lives are more peaceful and less complicated than yours.
Know Personal Limitations
Whatever be your area of competence and excellence might be, there will unfortunately be the play of egotism in you which may prompt you to imagine yourself to be greater than what you truly are. For every truly number-one position of tennis players, there will be at least be several tens of players far below in the rank who strongly believe that they deserve the number one slot. But their true capabilities and merits cannot really take them there, however hard they may try.
In the scheme of nature, all are not endowed with same set of skills and resources. If you are capable of judging yourself correctly, you will not fritter away your time and energy in pursuing something beyond your reach. You will be freed from the stress of chasing the unachievable in your life.
The above idea is again quite contrary to what “great positive thinkers” popularly advise. Pragmatic thinking rather than positive thinking can contribute immensely in cutting out stress.
Be Moderate in All Activities
Be it eating, drinking, sex, profession, money, fame or recognition, moderation is the key to stress-free life. Eat moderately; sleep moderately; work moderately; have sex moderately. Avoid unnecessary travel. Remember that incessant traveling taxes physical health by upsetting body rhythms, which in turn causes stress.
Spend moderately. Never run behind unwanted materialistic accumulation. This is a time-tested age-old wisdom which is unfortunately forgotten in today's Credit Card culture. By disciplining your lifestyle to ensure spending only within earning, you may lose short-term pleasures, but you will enjoy a stress-free life in the long run.
Have Faith in Divine Dispensation:
Those who have strong faith in God - a higher power governing all, can grasp better than non-believers that the divine scheme of things is mostly beyond human comprehension. There is quite some truth in the saying “Man proposes, and God disposes”.
Surrender to that force. This surrender helps you to accept and be content about the cards you have received and you can play to the best of your ability the cards available in your hands. A true believer can accept with humility the outcome of the game. This surrender and dependence on God can immensely help in taking the stress off. Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi used to say “When you are traveling in a train, will you still carry your luggage on your shoulders?”