A 2013 survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence found that one-third of US employees experience chronic work stress, the main causes being workload (46%) and people issues (28%), followed by work/life balance issues (20%) according to EAP.

Bad luck!

Or maybe not?

Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside and the author of the best-selling book, The How of Happiness claims that only 10% of your happiness is determined by circumstances, 50% by your genetic predisposition, living us with a whole 40% to choose our attitude and actions.

Too good to be true?

Just look around yourself and notice how people react differently to stress. Some are able to remain calm while others flip out totally in the midst of a workplace storm.

So what if there’s really a way to eliminate or at least manage work-related stress?

Let’s see our top 5 tips for that:

#1. Control

Separate what you can and can’t control in a certain stressful situation.

Why is it important?

There’s no point in being upset and ruminating for days for something you cannot change anyway.

You’re in a traffic jam? Or your boss talks to you in an unbearable tone?

Both are out of your control.

For these things prefer to adopt a more helpful perspective:

1. Change the situation (walk out of the room, put boundaries or even find another job); or

2. Accept the situation (your boss is as he is, you cannot change him). You can spend days ruminating, but apart from releasing toxic energy, there’s no practical use.


#2. Big picture

Put it into a perspective and see the big picture:

Will this matter in a year from now?

Will this matter in 10 years?

If not, why bother stressing yourself about it?

I understand you’re feeling upset, but comparing to the course of your life, it’s still just a tiny grain of sand in the machine, right? 🙂


#3. Positives

By building and noticing positives you cannot eliminate negatives, but you can make them take less space (remember, perspectives?).

So what can you do to counterbalance all that negative energy and create positives in your workplace?

Maybe some empowering reminders, a personal item on your desk, seeking out positive colleagues to spend your lunch time with… the possibilities are endless.


#4. The other legs

You’re having stress at work, so how about the rest of your life?

I like to refer to it as a 4-legged chair, work being only one of the legs, along with passion, friends and family.

The problem starts when you’re having stress at all four simultaneously.

But if you give enough importance to all four legs and the other three are working out fine, there’s no way how work-related stress can take up all the space in your life.

Conclusion: cultivate positive emotions with friends and family and have a passion that gives you joy.


#5. Perceptual positions

NLP uses the context of perceptual positions to describe one event or situation in three distinct sensory ways, depending on whose shoes you’re in.

The first perceptual position is obviously yours. It’s not easy to get into that.

In the second position, you see, hear and feel the situation through filters of the other person.

You’re having an issue with your boss? Get into his skin!

Try to understand why he is behaving like that. It’s not going to resolve your issue but it might help to see that he’s also just a human who is having a personal problem with this superior for instance or is having immense stress with a chronically sick child at home.

In coaching we sometimes also role play this – we put the person in the shoes (or on the chair) of the other person and make them play the other role. It gives lots of new insights, try that out!

Once you understand him better, it will be easier to stop demonizing him and the whole issue will take up less space in your mind.

You can also slip into the role of an observer as a third perceptual position (a neutral third party or a fly on the wall) and see the events through this lens. How will your perception of the situation change when you start talking about you in 3rd person (“he/she” instead of “I”)?


Now over to you! Which one of these tips resonate with you most? What have you tried and with what success? Any other tips to add? Leave us a comment below.