Alicia Roopnaraine

Do you sometimes feel like you’re overloaded with stress? As if your boss is constantly getting on your last nerve?

It is perfectly normal to feel this way but there may be questions that we should be asking ourselves. Are we doing what we really want to be doing? Or are we in the job because we want the money?

Truth be told we don’t always get to pick and choose where we work. After spending four years studying to get our degree, we may still not get the job we really want to get, so we end up settling for what is available. And there are also those who do get their dream job but somehow find it hard to manage the stress at work.

Let’s face it, whether we were instantly in love with the job or learned to love it, there will be always days that are better than others… there will be times when your co-workers and boss just press all the wrong buttons and get a rise out of you but what is important is not so much their actions but your reaction to what they say and/or do.

It’s easy to get worked up but at the end of the day, rest assured that the only person who ultimately suffers is you. And there are practical ways to keep your cool when you feel as though the pressure is mounting:

*Block out the noise – You can take this both literally as well as figuratively. Remind yourself that you have a job to do and that you shouldn’t let everything around you distract you from what you are there to do. Not everyone has the luxury of an office to themselves and so many times people have to share a space. If, for example, you find your co-worker to be distracting, you can simply take your headphones to work and put them on. This is a gentle way of letting them know that you have work to do and you’d rather not engage in small talk.

*Ignore and smile – People will always make senseless comments and sometimes you have to pretend as though you never heard what they said in order to save yourself from throwing the desk at them. If you have no other option but to listen to them, say if it’s your boss, then listen and smile cordially. You may also want to practice your breathing… deep, slow breaths… inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, or you can simply try the classic counting down from 10.

*Take a coffee break – Whether it’s coffee or tea, taking a break from the office to grab something to drink or to snack on is essential. There is a reason why workplaces allow ‘breaks.’ It’s not healthy to be cooped up in the office for 8 hours. Taking a stroll outside, even if it is just to get some fresh air, can be refreshing. You will find that taking a break allows you to function more effectively.

*Listen to soothing music – Music is always soothing to the soul. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, put on some music. The type of music you listen to is entirely up to you but if you’re feeling especially aggravated, you may want to stay away from music containing vile lyrics. Try some soft jazz or classical music to keep you calm. Bear in mind that you’re in an office and, especially if it’s a shared space, be sure to ask your colleague/s if they mind soft background music.

*Establish boundaries – It is okay to be friendly and cordial to your co-workers but remember that your co-workers are not necessarily your friends and this means that there are boundaries that should be established. Professionalism should always be maintained. There is also a reason why workplace romances aren’t condoned. If you become too friendly with your co-workers, you are opening the door to potential disrespect, so keep it cordial and remember boundaries.

*Leave work at the workplace – Although this is easier said than done, we have to practice leaving work at the workplace. There will be instances when you are crunched for time and have a deadline to meet and so you take work home. But, if you organise yourself, you should be able to get everything done in the office without having to do so. Unless you are a doctor who is on call, you are not obligated to answer your phone after work hours. This is the time where you need to relax and do something you enjoy, such as spending time with your family or going to the gym.

Bear in mind that everyone is replaceable. If you don’t show up to your job tomorrow, someone will be there to take your place, so taking time for yourself to maintain your sanity is key.

Alicia Roopnaraine is a Psychologist at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s Psychiatric Department. You can send questions or comments to her at

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