There is an old English proverb that states a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. While for most of us the days of sailing the high seas are stuff of history, life in any profession can sometimes feel like we are being tossed and tested beyond our limits. Especially in the current environment where isolation and uncertainty are at ever corner.
Juggling family, work and the other stresses that come with a global pandemic can wear down even the hardiest of souls. So how can you best support yourself through times of stress to come out on top?
Be kind to yourself
If things are going less than swimmingly at work, it can be easy to feel you have somehow failed. Thoughts such as ‘I am not good enough’, ‘everything is going wrong because of me’ or ‘I cannot deal with this’ are unhealthy, unhelpful and ultimately useless. Conversely, flipping the negativity on its head with positive affirmations that reminds you of why you have been entrusted with the job are much more helpful.
Avoid falling into the trap of negative self-talk
This will only amplify the stress you are under and consume time you could spend solving problems instead of dwelling on them. It’s important to identify these thoughts, acknowledge their harm and move on. If you find yourself unable to do so, talk to a friend or colleague you trust. Chances are they will give you some perspective and allow you to see the situation as it is, not as you fear it.
Make time for your health
If you’re swamped with work, dealing with difficult people or simply struggling to get through a particularly arduous project, it can be easy to let these things slide into your personal life. After a long and tiring day, it can be tempting to opt for a beer and burger over a more nourishing meal, or skip the evening jog and watch Netflix instead.
While it’s important to have a lazy day every now and then, a healthy body makes for a healthy mind, and if you are failing to eat well and get regular exercise you will eventually find your mental health suffering. Getting adequate sleep, cutting back on the junk food and keeping active will help your body run at its optimum and deal better with stress.
Don’t let work consume you
In our culture of 24/7 connectivity, the lines between work and home can very quickly become blurred. The nature of many working in virtual teams means that communicating outside of work hours is a necessity, but it’s crucial that you give yourself time to switch off. Unless you are expecting something urgent, restrict how often you check your email, put your phone on silent and go do something you enjoy when you’ve clocked off for the day.
Switching off also refers to your stress
Ruminating on what’s coming up, problems you are stuck on or deadlines you are dreading when you get home will fix nothing and leave your body is a perpetual state of stress. The work will still be there tomorrow, but taking the time to see friends, pursue your hobbies and generally get your mind off your job will allow you to approach the next day with a refreshed mindset.
Challenges at work, whilst hard to deal with at the time, will ultimately make you a stronger and more resilient person, both in your professional and personal life. Keeping the self-criticism to a minimum, prioritising your health and making time to switch off will help you best weather the storm.