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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 March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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