It's easy to blame the world for stress, but being kind to yourself can help give stress a swift kick goodbye.

A large portion of self-management skills are dedicated to avoiding or dealing with workplace stress. Time management is an obvious starting point. But it’s important to recognize that a large part of stress is in your mind.

Ah…so how do you feel about that statement? When someone tells you that it’s all in your head, chances your emotional response toward that person is less than friendly. Many people feel that statement minimizes what they are going through.

Something that is “in your mind” is a feeling or interpretation. And your feelings are very real and important. They are so important, in fact, that emotional de-stressing skills are critical to success on the job.

So, what self-management skills will help you de-stress at work?

  1. Be realistic (aka Give yourself a break.)

You probably understand that people periodically make mistakes because humans are imperfect. You try not to add to their stress by dwelling on their mistakes. You may even help them learn not to repeat them.

But perfectionists are hard on themselves. Their drive to produce flawless work generates internal pressure that results in stress.

Whether you are a perfectionist or simply dedicated to your job, setting realistic expectations is a healthy way to work and live. You may need to reevaluate and adjust some of your personal behaviors and beliefs to find the right balance, but your happiness and success are worth the effort.

Therefore, think of being realistic as the “Golden Rule” in reverse – “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.”

  1. Measure progress, not just goals.

It’s wise and much more satisfying to think of your work in terms of progress. Often, people are uncomfortable going for long periods of time without the closure of reaching a goal. Yet, your stress level could decrease if you recognized when important steps along the way were completed. Make it a habit to mark your progress, and you should experience a decline in your level of stress each time you complete a portion of a project.

  1. Say, “Thank you.”

Don’t get so wrapped up in your own concerns that you become oblivious to the people who contribute to your success. Thank coworkers for their help and contributions. Their pleasure will have a buoying effect on your own attitude.

  1. Smile.

Smiles are extremely powerful and contagious – even a forced smile! Research conducted in 2013 by Mori and Mori in Nagano, Japan showed that artificially raising the cheeks of study participants significantly improved their attitudes. After some participants’ faces were manipulated into smiles, they rated a series of photographs more positively than participants whose faces were not mechanically manipulated. In other words, even a forced smile has a positive emotional effect.

  1. Make time for yourself, and keep looking for your own “way.”

There are a lot of lists and bloggers providing information regarding how to relax and how to reduce stress at work. The truth is, only you can figure out what works best for you. Make sure to set aside time to search!

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