« Workplace suggestion boxes have gone high tech -- good or bad idea? | Main | Promotions without raises? Good career move or work life balance disaster? »

Stop displacing your stress and improve your work life balance

Yelling

No matter who we are, we all stress about something, sometime.

It creeps into our lives and comes out in ways that affect our behavior.  The cause might be a change in our work situation -- the boss piles more work on us; it might be a problem with a parent -- mom fell and needs more supervision. Now, our work life balance is out of whack, we're likely to unleash our stress on an innocent bystander -- an assistant, our children, our spouse. One simple question from your husband or child, like where to find the peanut butter might cause you to roar, "Don't you have eyes? Would it kill you to use them?" 

Oprah Magazine calls it "stress rolling."

Learning to reclaim our ability to relax and stop our stress rolling is one of the best things we can do for our relationships and our work life balance. 

So, how do you stop it?

Here are a variety of suggestions gleamed from different sources, including O Magazine.

1. Notice it in other people. For example, the mom on the phone with a client who yells at her kids in the grocery store when the kid asks for a bag of candy or the guy who yanks his dog around after a hard day at work. When you see it in others, identify the same sort of reaction in yourself. One sign you're stress rolling might be a hint of guilt.

2.  Catch yourself doing it. The moment you get the slightest inkling you're stress rolling, be aware of it. Take some deep breaths, figure out what's really bothering you, and ask yourself, 'what's the worst thing about that?'

3. The next step is action. Apologize, admit to stress rolling, and go find someone who offer you guidance with the real issue at hand. This is where you think big about who's in your advisory team from best friends to couple counselors to senior leaders in your office.

4. Be cautious. Not everyone you ask for help will be able or willing to give it. Be aware enough to know when someone's advice to you is wrong. Yet, it's possible that the very people you once stress rolled onto may join you in solving the problems you face.

5. Expect glitches in life. The goal is to gain confidence in how to manage when things don't go according to plan. If we remain open to the unexpected instead of panicking, be willing to change what we think we know and more aware of how we react, we're likely to feel less overwhelmed and more balanced.

Just last week, I caught myself stress rolling onto my son when I had too many writing assignments on my plate. He asked me to sign a permission slip at the last minute with the carpool mom waiting for him in the driveway. I signed the form but unleashed fury on him. When he arrived home from school, I apologized, came up with a new system of staying on top of school paperwork, talked with my editor and reevaluated how many assignments I take on in a given week.

Of course, not every cause of stress will be easy to resolve, and it may take time to get work life balance issues under control, but having a game plan helps. 

Do you think stress rolling is unavoidable? Have you ever caught yourself doing it and justified it?

 

Comments