Understanding the lay of the land—office politics, company culture and your own boundaries—can be a lot to handle. Here are a few tips to help you get control when you’re overwhelmed.
Give yourself a break. Do you hold yourself up to unrealistic standards? Self-judgment creates anxiety that makes a busy schedule feel even more stressful. Realize that your inner critic is based on fear—and treat yourself with compassion.
You’re not Wonder Woman. Sure, you’re new in the office and you want to make a good impression. But it’s okay to ask for help. If you’ve got more on your plate than you can handle, reach out.
Stop trying to control everything. Uncertainty can be scary—especially when we’re going through a change, like a new job. But the computer that crashes and makes you late to a meeting, for example, is out of your hands. Do your best in the areas of the job you can control, and know that you have what it takes to handle the unexpected.
Lists are your friends. If you’ve got too many balls in the air and you’re not sure which ones to drop, make a list of your responsibilities, then determine which ones you must continue devoting time to, which ones you can delegate or get help with and which ones are low-priority and can be let go.
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling exhausted or famished, pay attention to that—it might be a sign that you’re overdoing it. Don’t allow your work day to be so packed that you don’t have time or energy to tend to your health.
Outside the office…
Stop worrying! Don’t spend your evenings and weekends thinking about the long to-do list waiting for you at the office. To avoid burning out, you need time to recharge—but you can’t do that if you spend your off hours feeling anxious about your work.
Schedule down time. Whether it’s a yoga class or a movie with a friend, don’t just assume you’ll find the time. Make a point of scheduling activities that help you unwind and be committed to keeping those appointments.
Renegotiate responsibilities. If there are activities that aren’t top priorities but you don’t want to drop them entirely, speak with your friends and try to find a compromise. For example, if you’re hosting a dinner for friends, find out if it can be changed to a potluck.
Are your co-workers chronically stressed? Don’t let their anxiety rub off on you.
If your stressed out co-workers always want to chat with you about their mile-long to-do lists, avoid being drawn into the conversation. Bring up more positive topics instead.
If an overwhelmed colleague is struggling, it’s okay to lend a hand, but let her know that your own responsibilities are your first priority.
Have an escape plan.
It’s easy to take on the emotions of those around you. Step outside for fresh air or grab a cup of coffee—anything that removes you from the situation for a few minutes and allows you to regroup.