How to Stay Calm in the Face of Workplace Difficulty 

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Whether you’re the manager of a practice or a newbie starting their second week, each of us face a number of challenges in the workplace that can lead to stress, anxiety, and being short tempered. If left unchecked, stress can have negative effects on your job performance, your relationships with your colleagues, and even your physical and mental health. It’s easy to let stress take over at work - for example, if you are short-staffed, or if you have a disagreement with a coworker - but I believe that one of the key habits of successful people is their capacity to stay calm. How can you become a calmer person in the face of workplace difficulty?

1. Know your triggers. The key is to be self-aware enough to recognize when you are getting overly stressed. Practicing deep breathing (even just counting to 10!) or mindfulness will help you get there. Once you’re able to identify what triggers your stress, you can better manage your reactions. If you can, write these down as you’re feeling them to help you develop self-awareness.

2. Avoid catastrophic thinking. A very common thought pattern that can escalate out of control in times of stress is catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when you assume that the worst possible outcome is the most likely. It’s when you forget to turn something into your boss on time and think, “Well, I’m getting fired and surely somehow this will lead to the downfall o the business, and it’s all my fault.” Wrong. Get some perspective - most things are far less of a big deal than we think they are!

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You know the phrase ‘fake it ’til you make it’? I think this phrase is great…sometimes. While this attitude can be useful, for example in building confidence, one way to lessen stress is to recognize when you are over your head, facing a new challenge, or need some guidance. It benefits you and your colleagues when you ask for help.

4. Pause and think. This applies particularly if you are in a management position. It’s key to think very carefully about each situation and consider it from all sides before making a decision. This will help you stay calm, because it will force you to be objective and to give your emotions a cooling-off period.

The capacity to stay calm in the workplace will become one of your most valuable assets. It shows your manager and colleagues that you’re someone that can be depended on when things get hairy, and it will also improve your decision-making skills. And remember: you’re not a robot, you’re a human being! So cut yourself a break, too.