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9 Ways To Say No To Work Stress

9 Ways To Say No To Work Stress

You know the scene. You work a 16-hour day and you are stressed out. The fear of losing your job prevents you from refusing more work, projects and responsibilities. But what is the result? You are at high risk of suffering from depression, stress-related illnesses and your relationships suffer. You have set a dangerous precedent and your company may assume this is your normal workload.

One study by the UK mental health charity, Mind, found that more than 60% of those surveyed felt that management was of no help at all. The sad fact is that many line managers haven’t a clue as how to manage their employees. Your manager is not going to change but you are! Time to call a halt. Here are 9 ways to say no to work stress.

‘You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ – Christopher Columbus

1. You must make a choice

The work will not decrease. In fact, you can expect a tsunami and your boss will still be just as unsympathetic as before. This is why you have to make a choice now. Thinking that you have no choice but to slave away is like letting yourself sink into quicksand. Only you have the power to choose not to kill yourself.

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‘I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.’ – Steve Maraboli

2. Start prioritizing now

You have taken on too much and cannot finish all the projects within the set deadlines. Time to prioritize and start making a list. At the start of the day, make a list of everything you have to do, even the small stuff. Then decide what goes to the top, because of urgent deadlines. Then try and delegate any minor jobs. Resolve to check emails only at set times during the day. Avoid multitasking and reacting to work as it shows up.

At the end of the day, review your list and start to make a list for tomorrow. This is the method preferred by Paula Rizzo which you can see on the video here.

3. Learn how to say no

Your boss asks you to do another task. You are afraid of confrontation and you are worried that your colleagues may resent your refusal. But you are the one who is going to suffer. You are at risk of damaging your career when you make mistakes or miss yet another deadline. Here are some ways that you can say ‘no’ in the most assertive, yet diplomatic way:

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  • Mention one urgent project that is taking up all your time.
  • Suggest a different time limit for the proposed extra work.
  • Don’t use the word ‘no’ directly.
  • Don’t be apologetic or feel guilty.
  • Point out the risks of missing other more pressing deadlines.
  • Mention what you need help with to finish the most urgent task.
  • If you are nervous about a verbal refusal, ask for time to think about it and then reply by email, stating some of the reasons mentioned above.

4. Set boundaries

Make sure that you are getting breaks and having a decent lunch break. Avoid snacking at your desk. Think about working long hours. Is it worth it? Consider this:

  • Your productivity goes down as darkness falls.
  • You make more mistakes when tired.
  • You are putting your career at risk.
  • You are not managing your time properly.
  • Your mood gets worse and worse and damages relationships with colleagues.

5. Talk about the problem

Confide in a trusted colleague, friend or your partner. Try to examine what is happening. Are there ways that you can improve your work procedures?

6. Exercise

Make a firm decision to stop working at a certain time a few days of the week. Work out in the gym, go for a walk or meet a friend for a chat. Doing exercise will release the endorphins and automatically lift your mood. Remember that if you are tired, hungry or in a bad mood, your productivity will be negatively affected. It is much better to work shorter hours more efficiently.

7. Deal with anxiety

Let’s imagine you have to give a presentation and you are extremely nervous about it. Latest research suggests that trying to calm yourself may not be the best strategy. If you acknowledge that you are excited and get psyched up by accepting that, then surprising things begin to happen. The study done by the Harvard Business School suggests that the anxiety remains but the combination with the excitement seems to control the nerves. Participants who did this all performed better than those who were trying to calm down.

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You can experiment and see what works best for you. Many people still benefit in taking a calming supplement such as Bach’s Rescue Remedy or chamomile.

8. Take a holiday

You must be joking!  Look at the statistics. If people looked after their stress levels, just by taking time off or using their time better, then the economy would start to boom again. Estimates by the European Union have calculated that as much as 60% of lost days caused by absenteeism are due to stress-related illnesses.

The Britons work the longest hours in the whole of Europe and they have reached the unenviable record of putting in about 40 days of overtime every year which is unpaid!

9. Start with small changes

It is unlikely that your workload will be dramatically reduced, even if you threaten to leave. Your manager will not change either. The best solution is to start by making small changes, such as time management or learning how to say no to a crushing workload. You are in the frontline. Look after yourself. Nobody else will!

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‘It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.’ – Hans Selye

 

Featured photo credit: Sleeping pills/Dean via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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