Stress is a part of life. Working in information technology can come with high levels of stress. Deadlines for projects, working with difficult users, and late nights from being overworked can cause abnormal levels of stress. Here are a few tips on how you can stay calm in stressful situations at work.

Take a Few Deep Breaths

Being stressed can cause higher levels of anxiety. A great way to reduce this is to take a few deep breaths. It can be done at your desk, or away from your desk. Stop what you’re doing for a moment, take a deep breath for a few seconds, and exhale. Do this a few times. It should allow you to calm down a little and therefore make you feel a little less stressed and more focused.

Get Away From Your Desk

Sometimes you just need a break from your work. Your employer doesn’t expect you to be at your desk for the entire day. If they do, it’s unrealistic and unproductive on a larger scale. Taking a break from your work – even if you just wash your face in the bathroom, or get a drink of water, they can help reduce the feeling of stress in a situation.

Keep People Informed

Stressful situations are often imposed by other people rather than yourself. If your boss has given you a deadline or a customer is waiting for some information, it’s a great idea to keep them informed o your progress. This way, they won’t be as anxious for you to get your work done as they know where it’s at. It will also most likely reduce the number of times the call/email/come to speak to you and ask about your work – which will then reduce interruptions and stress!

Focus On Your Job

It’s easy to get distracted in a stressful situation. You may have a deadline due the next morning and you think you have nowhere near enough time to do it. You start working harder and faster and think you’re getting it done well, but all of a sudden with all the stress you realise you made a mistake somewhere and it’s made things even worse.

If you focus on the work you’re doing it can help prevent these kinds of mistakes. It will benefit you and your team, as you’ll get the work done at the same standard and won’t cause problems for others.

Stay Organised

It’s important, both in general and while you’re working to a deadline, to keep yourself organised. Keep to your normal file structure when saving files. Take notes as you usually would. Organise your documentation or source code as you normally do. If you try to do a rush job when doing this work, it will most likely slow you down later, when you try to remember where you saved that file or what that piece of code does.

Be Aware Of Your Emotions

This is such a big area that it deserves a post all on its own (which I’ll do in the future). Essentially, if you’re aware of how you’re feeling at any given time, you can learn to control how you communicate with others. It’s all too easy to become short or snappy or rude when everyone is under stress. If you’re aware that you’re stressed, realise that you may come across as being rude. Try to change the way you’re communicating or presenting yourself to counter that. This means speaking to others in your regular tone (perhaps slightly adjusted if you’re stressed), rather than shouting or being rude. In the long run it will pay off. This is a big way to help stay stress free at work.

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Written by Ben Brumm