How to stay productive under extreme stress
We usually talk about how to increase personal effectiveness by combining the routine of private life with work.
But, unfortunately, each of us faces situations that go beyond the ordinary and provoke severe stress. This stress may be related to work, or it may be related to personal or family problems.
Whatever the stressful situation (illness, relationship break-up, bad stock market play, or just a child’s poor school performance), it makes our lives more difficult.And Yes, intuitively, we all know that trouble happens to everyone. But anxiety and worry, combined with the knowledge that we must continue to do our job, only increase the level of stress.
“These kinds of situations require you to be able to grasp on the fly and gather the strength to be able to do everything that is required of you,” says clinical psychologist, Professor alisha Clark.
And here are some strategic tips to help you cope with your job even under extreme stress.
Define what you can control
Part of the feeling of anxiety that haunts us during stressful situations is associated with a sense of loss of control over what is happening.So immediately try to identify what you can still control. This will put your feelings in order.If one of your relatives is ill, you probably can’t control the disease and the treatment process, but you can control your participation in this process and your reaction to what is happening.
In addition, in most cases, you can manage your work time. If you can reschedule important meetings and calls to a quieter time, change your schedule. If you can work from home for a while, take advantage of this.Manage what you can manage to adapt your life to the changed situation for as long as it is relevant.
We all have tasks that need to be solved first.
“But highly productive professionals who are concerned with their own performance usually go far beyond the boundaries of mere necessity, and this usually makes them highly productive professionals,” Clarke says.
However, in a stressful situation, you need to decide on the necessary minimum of tasks. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
Where can I save energy?
How can I save time?
What tasks can I postpone for later without any special consequences?
For example: do I need to go on a business trip to Yekaterinburg now, or can I postpone the trip for a couple of weeks? Or: I should definitely go to Nizhny Tagil in addition to Yekaterinburg, or can this be postponed until the next time?Once you understand what you need to spend time on, you can make a list of priorities to make sure that something really important doesn’t escape your stress-stricken attention.And then you will decide whether you have the strength and time to complete tasks beyond the required minimum.
Accept the principle of ” good enough»
Stress is the time when there is no place for perfectionism. If you want to stay healthy and productive, switch temporarily to the “good enough” principle, Clarke says.This can be difficult if you are used to doing your job in a way that makes you feel proud of it.But sometimes the “good enough” principle is necessary in order to release the energy you need to resolve a stressful situation and to avoid professional burnout.
Severe stress affects how we make decisions.
Feelings of anxiety have a strong influence on the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for problem solving and regulates our emotions.
In a quiet, everyday life, we are constantly faced with repeated stressful situations.
For example, at night a cat can jump on us, in the morning we are afraid to be late for work, the subway car or the driver in front of the car can brake sharply, the boss will come in a bad mood (he also has cats, children and a car), subordinates are stupid, your favorite compote suddenly ran out in the corporate dining room, the city got up in an eight — point traffic jam in the evening-and so on indefinitely.And we know how to deal with such small and transient troubles. Normally, we have enough time to recover.Strong or uncompensated stress is another matter, it does not allow us to quickly restore our strength and peace of mind. And this negatively affects the decision-making mechanism.
Knowing this, spend more time making decisions — take your time, even if you think you are aware of your actions.
This may not be true — it may be an illusion caused by the effect of cortisol (the stress hormone) on your prefrontal cortex. Just remember that.
Share your problems selectively
Another decision you need to make is how and what you should or should not share with the people around you. First of all, with colleagues and management.
Do I need to tell my boss that your father-in-law is seriously ill? Should you let him and your colleagues know about your divorce, etc.?
These are questions that do not have a common answer, and each time they are solved individually.
If your life situation requires you to change your work schedule, then an explanation with your superiors and colleagues may be a really good idea.
But it is better to limit yourself to a General description and not go into details.
“For most of us, colleagues are not the best resource for support in a stressful situation. Rather the opposite: excessive awareness of colleagues can increase the level of stress, ” the expert believes.