How to Handle Stress and Not Share It With Others

Michele Warg
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Workplace stress is rarely confined internally; if you aren't careful, it can affect your attitude, communication style and interactions with others. For administrative professionals, who often have a high level of interpersonal contact, it can be difficult to avoid passing these negative feelings on to colleagues. By finding ways to deal with stress on your own, you can avoid polluting the office atmosphere.

Workplace stress is a persistent problem, both for employees and employers. According to the American Institute of Stress, job issues are the most common sources of stress for people in the United States. Whether you're dealing with job insecurity or a frustrating co-worker, it is crucial to find methods of stress relief that will help you get through the day.

Many administrative workers work on a variety of small tasks and projects during the course of the day, from planning executive travel to dealing with crucial company paperwork. When your attention is constantly divided and pulled in different directions, it is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed. When you feel like exploding, take a minute to get your breathing and heart rate under control. Breathe in for five counts, hold your breath for five counts, breathe out for five counts and hold for five counts. This technique can be done anywhere without attracting attention.

Mental workplace stress is often reflected physically. For quick, temporary stress relief, perform a few stress-relieving stretches at your desk. Stretch your neck by looking up at the ceiling, down at the floor, and to the left and right. Clasp your hands together behind your back and stretch them away from your body to open the shoulders. Stand up to give your back a break and move your legs, even if it's just to walk to the printer.

For administrative professionals who are constantly surrounded by people, it can feel impossible to avoid passing on workplace stress. When you feel overwhelmed by employee requests, workplace chatter and negativity, get out of the office. Take a 10-minute break to blow off steam. Run at full speed around the block or up a few flights of stairs; the physical exertion can help shed tension buildup. Another tried-and-true method is to sit in your car and scream or cry to let go of negative emotions. In the short term, a quick release can prevent an embarrassing meltdown.

In the long term, one of the most effective — and challenging — ways to handle workplace stress is to deal with the root causes. If you cannot identify the triggers, spend a week paying attention to your reactions to people and situations. Note when you have a negative response, whether it's a temper flare-up or a tightening of the chest. At the end of the week, look for patterns. Do you lose your temper easily on days when colleagues bombard you with requests? Consider implementing a more efficient communication system or delegating work to an assistant. By targeting the root causes of your stress, you can cut it off before it spreads to everyone in the office.

When ignored, workplace stress can infiltrate the company atmosphere. By finding ways to manage your stress, both in the short term and long term, you'll improve your own outlook and make life easier for everyone in the office.

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