We all have days when nothing seems to go right and when we are prone to make silly mistakes. However, when bad days turn into bad weeks, it is time to take stock and to reflect on why things are going wrong, seemingly everyday.
Prolonged pressure at work, or at home, can easily turn to stress and ultimately turn any potentially good day into a bad one. The following case study is a good example of this:
Imagine you have left late for the office and the traffic is very heavy on your usual route. You then try to find a short-cut only to find that this too, is congested. When you finally arrive at the office late for a meeting, you find yourself blaming everyone else!
The day gets progressively worse when your computer, which you failed to back up the day before, crashes and you lose an important report that was scheduled to go to your department head with a deadline the following day at 9am.
Consequently, you have to stay late to redo the work you lost when the computer crashed — and you find that trying to remember those pearls of wisdom and clever solutions never really feel the same the second time around.
Sound familiar yet? Then, when you finally get home late, you have a row with your wife and shout at the children. You will agree, I am sure, that unless you stop and reflect on why things are going wrong for you, the anger you feel at making silly mistakes will intensify and be internalised within you — sometimes with results that adversely affect your health and general wellbeing.
The key factor in all of this is, of course, stress. Stress pushes us to make silly mistakes, it impairs our judgement and, if left unchecked, it can cost us our job and possibly our relationship. When we get really stressed we say things we do not mean and we act out of character which often means we find ourselves in a position of having to apologise for what we have done wrong.
But have you really done anything wrong — or was it that you were just stressed and people failed to understand that? The unfortunate fact is that they probably just see you as out of control, moody, confused and often angry. Not really the most pleasing of personality types!
Pressure is a reality we all have to deal with, but recognising when pressure is turning to raw stress is an individual skill that takes time to develop.
You can try and ignore your feelings and shout back at others who are accusing you of being angry but that certainly won't help the situation.
You can lay in bed at night unable to sleep worrying about the report you still need to write, but again, that won't help get it written. You need to take control of yourself and of the stressors in your life by identifying and managing them.
You can improve how you manage pressure by:
- Acknowledging that you were late for the office because you were late leaving home and apologise for your error
- When under pressure do not try and cut corners. Weaving in and out of traffic will not get you to your destination any quicker and it will just push up your stress levels or even cause you to have a traffic accident.
- Technology is only as good as the user. It is easy to make mistakes when under pressure at the end of the day, so take time to save your work before you ‘close down' — do not leave anything to chance
- Taking work problems home is not a good idea. If you leave the office in a bad mood because you have had a bad day, do not inflict that mood on your family. Leave your troubles behind, take a deep breath and smile — you will be surprise how much better you will feel.
You cannot change what has gone before, but you can pressure-proof yourself for the future so take control and don't let a bad day turn into a bad. week.
Points to consider
- Do not let bad days become bad weeks — or months
- Learn to identify and control your stressors
- When you smile - the world smiles with you.
The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk