Ask The Experts

Career Q&A: How to manage work stress

Dear Coach Loke,

I am very stressed at work! I would appreciate some ideas as to how to reduce stress.


Dear May,

Stress is a feeling or condition a person experiences when the demands are more than the resources available; i.e. not enough time/money. Sometimes, stress can be a positive experience. It’s positive when it encourages you to be more creative and resourceful, and pushes you to your optimum performance level. Stress is negative when it burns you out. So, how do you know if your stress is positive or negative? Here’s a simple indicator - if you feel time passes by quickly and you achieve and produce more than normal, this is good stress. If you feel tired, frustrated and like you don’t feel like working; and your productivity is less than normal, this may be a sign of burn-out.

Here are some KEY de-stressing questions to ask:


Plan & Organise:

“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” - Goethe

Prevent “fire-fighting”: Plan your work and do what matters most, first.

Delegate: Outsource or delegate jobs that are not your forte. Try saying “No” to tasks that do not fall under your job scope.

I remember a poster I saw in a hospital. On the left side of the poster were pictures of a neck brace, wheelchair and other medical equipment. On the right side was a picture of a motorbike helmet. Below the pictures was the caption “Which would you rather use?”

Moral of the story: Prevention is always better.


Be Flexible:

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is called insanity.” - Einstein

Perhaps you’ve experienced this: A fly is in your car and keeps flying into your car’s windscreen. You then roll down your side window and try to get the insect to fly out. Unfortunately, the fly keeps flying into the windscreen over and over again until it collapses due to exhaustion.

If you’re not getting the results you want, alter your perception or your approach.


Did it violate your values/belief system? Can you forgive? If your answer is “No,” maybe it’s time to leave. If your answer is “Yes,” perhaps you can accept it.

Forgive: People are not their behaviour. Accept the person, not the behaviour.

Breathe: Inhale deeply and exhale. Repeat another two times. Do you notice that you are already calmer? Inhale deeply again and imagine that you are breathing cool, fresh mountain air. Exhale and imagine that you are flushing out all the stress and negativities. This will help you clear your mind and feel more relaxed.

Social support: Connect with family and friends, or go for outings.

Coach Loke KW Corporate Trainer Certified Hypnotherapy Instructor Author, Cartoonist

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