I recently participated in a personal development session. At the end of the session, we went around the room and talked about what we do when we feel stressed and/or overwhelmed by work.

Many of the people in the group said things like “take a walk”, “listen to music”, and “do yoga”.

I love all those ideas. But two of the three habits I shared were much more directly aligned with the overwhelming work than those suggestions.

I said when I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually my to-do list which is stressing me out.

What I immediately do is look at the list and I prioritize it—meaning, I figure out which things I must get done. I then move everything else to a future date. Having a shorter list has helped me countless times to focus on the most important and urgent things, relieving my feeling of overwhelm, and leading to success.

Another thing I do during stressful situations is eat the big frog first. Just the other day, for example, there was an opportunity I wanted to pursue and the idea of speaking with this person felt stressful to me. I was thinking about it as I drove to work that morning, playing around with the words I wanted to say.

I decided it would be better to send an email and follow up with a call. The first thing I did when I got to my office was compose the email and send it. Once the e-mail had been sent, the toughest parts of the conversation had been said and I immediately felt a weight off my shoulders. The rest of my day, including the call I had with this person later that day, were much easier and less stressful.

As I wrote above, I did share a third strategy. It’s one that is always available to me: smiling.

As I’ve written many times, including here, smiling is an amazing thing. When we smile, chemicals are released in our brains that make us think we’re happy. And that makes us feel happy. It’s a simple trick. When you’re feeling stressed, stop whatever you’re doing; take a deep breath; and smile.

How do you manage your stress and overwhelm at work, or in any other areas of your life? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,