If you’re stressing from nine to five, you may want to re-examine what you’re stressing about.
It's understandable that you want to make a good impression at work. You don't want to be viewed as a slacker, nor do you want to create challenging scenarios with your boss or co-workers. At the same time, if you're too tense or attempt to be perfect, then you could be setting yourself up for a tough road without even knowing it.
Throughout my twenties, I would often stress about the little things at work that, in hindsight, were truly little things that no one cared about. To help you start to manage stress at work and let go of the need to be perfect, consider some of the items you might be worrying about without good reason. Below are some items many employees stress over that, at the end of the day, aren't worth the work stress.
You missed a regularly scheduled meeting
Many of us have a full plate at work, and sometimes scheduling conflicts will arise. Though you are expected to show up, contribute, and learn at regularly scheduled meetings, there will be times when you'll have to miss a meeting, or even just forget about it. It's OK! Don’t let it make you stressed at work.
Let the meeting facilitator or head know ahead of time that you'll be absent, and then go about your business. If you happen to forget about the meeting, then take responsibility for it and acknowledge it with the meeting facilitator or head. Then move on without giving it another thought.
You're running late for work
Unless you hold a position that requires you to be perfectly on time due to a safety issue or another reason, it's not the end of the world if you run a little late for work. If you're chronically late and it's causing you to be stressed at work, then you might want to consider putting measures in place to support you, like getting up 30 minutes earlier or carpooling with someone who's typically on time. Otherwise, life happens, and there will be times when you end up running late to work. If you're less than 15 to 30 minutes late, roll in as if nothing happened — sit at your desk and get to work. If you'll be more than 15 to 30 minutes late, let your boss know so you can keep the line of communication open, show respect and responsibility, and minimize any concern your co-workers might have.
You take an extended lunch
First, congratulations on choosing to take a lunch. That act alone can help with managing stress at work. Taking a break from your desk is important to reduce stress and remain focused. If you happen to be meeting an old friend and the time flies, or the restaurant is running behind on orders — both of which might cause you to take a lunch longer than 60 minutes — don't sweat it.
Unless you're in an environment where your every move is monitored, then most people won't notice you're taking a longer-than-normal lunch unless you make a big deal about it. So don’t! Though not usually necessary, if it makes you feel better, you could always stay a few minutes after your typical quitting time to make up for the extra minutes away at lunch.
You forgot to include an important team member on an email
If you forget to include someone on an email, then as soon as you realize it, correct it. Mistakes happen, so worry about it. The team member has probably been in a similar situation in the past, or will be one day in the future.
You forgot to include important details or an attachment in an email
With our fast-paced work environments, we're often doing 20 things at once. That’s one of the main reasons we are stressed at work in the first place! This also means that from time to time, you might leave out important details in an email communication or forget to include an attachment. Not a huge deal. Resend the email with the attachment and necessary additional details as soon as you realize what’s happened. Other people are busy at work too, so chances are, they won't give it another thought. Why should you?
You talked about your weekend or personal life
I've had moments where I felt like maybe I talked too much or shared too much about my personal life, only to remind myself that people are so busy with their own lives that it's highly unlikely that they gave my story a second thought. After all, it's not all about me!
Assuming you don't share details about sex, drugs, getting arrested, or anything else R-rated, then you're probably fine. You use good judgment before sharing too many personal details about your life with your co-workers. And if you and your manager or co-workers are talking about the weekend on a Monday morning, consider it a good relationship-building exercise and don't stress about the discussion afterward.
You gave a co-worker honest and constructive feedback
Part of your role as an employee is giving and receiving feedback. I prefer when someone is honest with me about his or her perspective, and I also appreciate helpful and constructive feedback.
If you were thoughtful enough to share constructive feedback with a co-worker, don't return to your desk and worry about whether or not they took it the wrong way and formed a bad opinion about you. If you were "compassionately honest," as I like to say, then consider giving yourself credit for speaking up and helping out instead of turning the event into a negative one in your mind.
Don't sweat the small stuff
Stress is already a daily factor in many of our lives. In fact, many studies, like the APA 2014 Stress Report, show that stress in the workplace can cause serious health issues, like fatigue, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and more. It's worth it to identify the areas where you can reduce stress, so you can free up that energy for things that truly matter at work — your productivity, projects, and presentations. Also, give yourself a break and realize you're not perfect. It's easier said than done, but to put it simply don't sweat the small stuff!
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