As black women in the workplace, we place tons of pressure on ourselves trying to please everyone and if we don’t, we feel we haven’t accomplished anything. Each day at work, we exhaust ourselves and go out of our way to pile on more responsibilities, just to make sure we are seen as “the superheroes” at our job. We lose ourselves in our work because we convince ourselves that if we tackle more challenges at our job, we are sure to be recognized for our hard work. Sometimes, we feel that it’s the right thing to do in pursuit of career advancement, trading in our health for an unhealthy work routine for upward mobility. Just to be on the radar for a promotion or prized assignment that will make all the difference.
But at the end of the day, when the proverbial rubber hits the road, we end up stressed out and fed up, ultimately pulling our 4C natural hair out because once again, we are overlooked for our hard skills and soft talents.
Here are some great tips for avoiding that behavior that fuels stress.
Breath, Relax, and Pace Yourself
We need to take some time for ourselves to relax and know that a good mental break is worth its weight in gold. As we work our way up the corporate ladder or running a successful black-owned business, know that success is a marathon, not a sprint. So pace yourself. In case you didn’t know, it’s actually quite beneficial to take a break every now and then to maintain productive levels of concentration and to maintain stress levels that promote creativity.
So, don’t hesitate when you have the urge to recharge–take a fifteen-minute walk or have a casual conversation with one of your colleagues about family or current events. Stop over-analyzing things and just follow your gut. You know what you’re doing, so give yourself credit for having the good judgment to know you’re doing the best you can do. Don’t aim for perfection, aim for your best.
Find Some Work Buddies
Two assessments due by the end of the week. An end of the quarter presentation for C-suite level executives due Wednesday. Back to back meetings on top of meetings and more meetings. Nothing wrong with aggressively tackling every opportunity, or feel it’s justifiable to want your boss to see you as a responsible employee. But it’s just as smart to know how and when to share the wealth.
Prioritizing and delegating skills are just as valuable. Managing competing priorities often calls for asking for a helping hand when necessary. No one expects you to work independently. Find people that can help you out when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Trust me, you are being more productive by delegating tasks to your co-workers, and showing yourself a team player when you volunteer to help others. You’ll save so much time, meet your deadlines, and keep your sanity.
Some say it’s genetics for women to multitask but it actually does more harm than good. Studies show you end up making more mistakes when you multitask than when working on a single task at a time. Furthermore, experts have proven that multitasking is neither efficient nor productive. Thinking you can handle multiple tasks at one time actually leads to more stress, anxiety, depression, and utter mental exhaustion.
So, please be mindful and recognize when you are shuffling back and forth with your work. Stop, prioritize, organize, and delegate where needed. Always try your best to avoid the tendency to take on to many responsibilities at once. Plan ahead, schedule your time and prioritize what’s important. Be sure to turn off any excessive distractions (damn you social media!). If something comes up that is a top priority, set aside what you’re doing and focus on that. Trust me, your boss will appreciate you, and so will your workmates.
Just Say No
Saying no on occasions when the best answer is no, does not make you a horrible person. I used to think that saying no would make me a bad person or limit my career opportunities. However, I have come to realize that it’s important to say yes ONLY when you know it’s a yes. Only accept things that can bring a learning value to yourself and potential advancement to your career. Knowing how to say no when the answer is no maintains your feeling of control and maintains your availability to contribute most effectively to your team in other ways.
Being in the habit of nurturing and care-taking, women like to overextend and please everyone before themselves. If we don’t say no, we have this inevitable guilty feeling because you want people to know you’re dependable. A team player. But we run the risk of losing focus on what’s really important—yourself. Your wants and your needs are important components of your overall well-being. So always saying yes to go get coffee for the team doesn’t make you a team player; it makes you an enabler.
Workout or Meditate
It’s the end of the workday and it’s time to relieve some of that stress that’s been building up over the entire day. In addition to healthy eating, working out gives you that full energy and allows you to the ability to tackle work issues with a clear mind. Daily meditation is another great alternative. Meditation not only calms the mind but it can also helps with stress, anxiety, and self-awareness with the physical body. There are some really great youtube videos that can help you begin your meditation journey as well. So play some soothing music and get those endorphins going…
Featured image: @aurelie.ualanik
If you have other great tips to relieve stress at work, please leave a comment below.
This article was originally posted on September 10, 2017. Made some updates to reflect current events and conditions.