When the deadline is drawing closer, there is still a lot of work to get done, and the pressure is rising, people react differently. Some of us close the door, close themselves to others, bite the bullet and ”just get it done”. I tend to do just that. When the pressure is on I just want to focus on solving the problem and preferably not be disturbed by anyone until I have resolved the issue and crossed the finish line.
But an article by Raposa, Laws and Ansell from 2015 suggests that this strategy may not be the best — at least not if we have the intention of feeling somewhat alright during the stressful time (and after it has passed too).
Helping others means helping yourself
Seventy-seven people were in a study asked to keep a journal and every day record how many stressful situations they had encountered throughout the day, and how their mood had been. They were also asked to note what they had done to help others around them during the day. It could be simple things such as ”hold the door”, ”help someone with their homework”, ”ask someone if they needed help”, and so on.
The researchers found that the people who took time to help others on stressful days more than they usually did were less affected by the stress. If they were originally in a good mood, they were not put in a bad mood due to the stressful situations. If they were initially in a bad mood, their mood did get worse, but not as much as for the people who did not make an extra effort to help others on those stressful days.
So, if we make a point of helping others when we are stressed (even if it is just with something small), we apparently manage our stress level and mood better as opposed to if we only focused on ourselves.
The next time you feel stressed or under pressure (perhaps you will be faced with stressful circumstances sometime this week), try to see the opportunities to help someone in the midst of the hectic situation.
Do not fall into the trap of helping everyone else first and then feel even more stressed towards the end of the day since you still have your own tasks left to do but are running out of time. Instead, let your aid be in the form of something small, but still helpful.
It can simply be trying to be extra attentive to if someone in close proximity to you needs an extra hand for a minute.
Keep your spirits up
If you, like I, tend to close yourself to the outside world when you feel stressed and if the study I mentioned really is on to something, you will feel at least a little bit less terrible due to the stress you are under if you somehow contribute to others’ wellbeing. Your good mood will not diminish to the same extent as it otherwise might have — and only you know how valuable that is to you. To me, it is priceless to keep myself in a good mood since I deeply appreciate feeling joy, ease and inspiration while working.
What is your way?
What is your trick to not letting stress get you down? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts on the matter.