The corporate world, whilst has so much to offer, can be a tiring and stressful environment. Day in, day out, striving to meet targets, building and maintaining relationships and juggling a thousand tasks at a time can be mentally demanding if you aren’t mentally prepared.
Obstacles you may encounter include:
- Struggling to meet deadlines
- Managing relationships
- Time management
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of confidence
- Conflict with your boss
You’ve been working really hard lately and feel on top of your workload. Your boss has noticed this and offers you an opportunity. You have been asked to give a presentation in front of some key stakeholders and take questions at the end. This is a big moment for you and could lead to a promotion if executed well.
You begin preparing for the presentation, when a colleague asks if you could help them with something they don’t understand. You help them. Your boss keeps asking to see a draft of the presentation and your daily workload is piling up.
You’ve set aside some time to get everything in order when your child’s school calls about disruptive behaviour and demand a meeting with you. You feel overwhelmed, stressed with so much needed to do and anxious that this is a big opportunity for you.
You don’t know where to start and just don’t have the time to get everything sorted. You end up in a cycle of worrisome thoughts, panicked breathing and the feeling that you just can’t do this.
Being in a great work flow and being recognised for your hard work is a good feeling. Being given opportunities for growth on the back of that is even more rewarding. It’s important to recognise your thoughts and behaviours during this time as there is likely to have been some obstacles you had to overcome.
Prioritising tasks is an essential skill for managing time, workload and thriving efficiently. Sometimes knowing when to say ‘no’ and politely explaining can go a long way. Task prioritisation can help in eliminating the stress you feel from being pulled in different directions.
In life, as in career, things happen out of our control that can hinder our performance or our plans. As you can’t control the situation, it’s important to recognise what you can control: your reactions, your interpretation of events and ensuing actions. Act on them.
A buildup of events and emotions can lead to stress. It is how you go about proactively managing those emotions that will set you apart and allow you to keep moving forward.
Let’s have a look at some of the things you can do in this situation that would enable you to smash your presentation and land yourself a much deserved promotion.
As with all situations, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer. Every individual will respond better to different mental strategies, planning and preparation. But what is the same across most people is that everyone has to start somewhere to begin the process of finding the most optimal strategies that work for them. For this situation, as plan may be:
When you’re in a ‘flow state’ where you are thriving, everything is working in your favour, your performances are great etc. this is often due to your mental work as much as your physical. Without a doubt, there would have been some obstacles you still had to overcome during that period, but because your mindset was in an optimal state, it is likely to feel easier.
During this time, take some time out to understand what you are thinking, what you are feeling and what you’re doing to help yourself kick adversity’s butt. Were you more positive? Did you take time to relax? Were you communicating your thoughts/feeling well? Did you recognise when you were faced with challenges and if so, how did you approach them?
Knowing how you perform when everything is going great, is crucial to knowing what you need to work toward when you are struggling and trying to get back there. Take some time to be mindful of your mentality. Write down some scenarios that have happened recently and how you approached them in a way that allowed your flow state to continue. Consider: the situation, how you felt, your reactions, how you interpreted the situation and how you acted on it. By writing it down you are able to refer to it when in times of need.
When you feel you have so much to do, taking a step back to breathe and give yourself a second to process can make a huge difference. Firstly, take a breath. Then write down all of the things you need to achieve for the day or week. Next, number them in order of importance and begin to complete each task on the list, ticking off the completed ones as you go. This may sound simple, but by occupying your mind with active planning and doing you remove any space for panic or worry.
If people ask you to do other things or help them, kindly explain that you have a list of things you must do first. Once you have finished and have spare time, check up on them, see how they got on and offer your services if they are still in need. Remember, it is ok to say no.
Being emotionally in control is often contingent on your level of self-awareness. When you are in the moment of heightened emotions, it’s difficult to see things objectively. Just as being aware of your mindset and emotions in the good times is helpful, understanding yourself in not so good times is helpful in preventing an emotional spiral.
Practice understanding how your body feels when you are becoming stressed. Note down:
- Physiological signs (increase in body temperature, sweating, increased heart rate)
- Mindset (irrational thinking, worry, negative thoughts inability to focus)
- Behaviour (pacing, fidgeting, inability to sit still)
By understanding yourself in times of stress you are able to notice the signs and step in before it all gets too much. Being aware of your emotions, puts you in control of your emotions.
As we said, you can only control your reactions and emotions to a situation. If panicking, crying or becoming angry at the situation are all unproductive behaviours, you can control that and make a choice to act in a more constructive manner.
Once you have recognised when you are becoming stressed and have managed to control your emotions enough to act productively, practice deep breathing to reset your mind and body to its usual state.
Pick a room in your most frequent environment (workplace and home) that makes you feel calm and relaxed. Whenever you feel yourself getting stressed, take a few minutes, go to this room and practice your breathing. Associate this room with positivity, restarting and refuelling.
Whilst in the room, tell yourself it’s ok and ask yourself what you need to do next. Do you need to have chat with your boss? Do you need to ask someone to help you? Perhaps you need to reorganise your tasks for the day or ask your partner if they can pick the kids up from school. Whatever it is, do it. Stress is unproductive. Proceeding with what you need to do to alleviate some stress will help.
Unfortunately, stressful situations are likely to arise often. The best part about that is that it gives you ample opportunities to refine your stress management techniques and constantly learning more about yourself, your thoughts and behaviours.
When you things in place such as: breathing, a designated calm environment and a plan of action, you become better and understanding the stressful situations, accepting them and then choosing how to act accordingly in a way that allows you to thrive.