Stress at the Office? The Cause Might Not Be What You Think

Stress at the Office? The Cause Might Not Be What You Think

Stress at the Office? The Cause Might Not Be What You Think


Are you experiencing stress at the office? Perhaps you uncontrollably lose it when your computer crashes, or your coworkers make you want to tear your hair out. Stress can arise as anxiety before meetings, deadlines, or presentations.

When stressed, it’s difficult to sleep and feelings of anger and impatience are quick to come to the forefront. While it’s easy to point to the office as a source of stress, the real cause might not be what you think.

Job Stress as Stand-In


It’s easy for us to point to our jobs as the source of our stress or to use relationships in the office as a placeholder for what’s making us crazy. When we rant to others, feel overwhelmed, tired, or frustrated, to blame it on our workload or our co-workers is convenient, safe, and relatable.


To be stressed from busy-ness has become a source of pride in a society that values hard work, doggedness, and the hustle. And yet, there are those who can hustle without feeling anxious, and there’s always someone with a similar or even more demanding job, who doesn’t share the same sleeplessness you do.

What makes those people different? They understand the real cause of stress.

The Real Cause of Stress

In moments of stress, it’s important to recognize that stress isn’t sent to you by the job or a co-worker. The sensation of stress can only arise from within you.

For example, what makes one person read an email and experience panic and stress, while another reads the same email and gets excited, while yet another feels little of anything? Any reaction is possible because the stress isn’t sent via email, it’s a product of your perspective.

Taking a moment to understand that perspective by checking in with what you’re thinking and feeling can help you locate the true cause of your stress. Is it fear of failure? Fear of financial hardship? Fear of not being liked in the meeting, or of being critiqued after the presentation? Once you find the storyline, follow it back to its origins, as far back as you can.

When you recognize that stress comes from nowhere other than your own perspective, you are empowered to change the one thing you can – yourself.

Becoming Stress-Free

As long as you’re trapped in thinking the office is the source of your stress, you’ll keep turning to the wrong fix. If only the boss would stop acting that way if only there was less traffic on the commute if only that one coworker would behave differently. None of these solutions are within your control.

When you understand the real cause of stress, you’ll turn to more effective ways of coping.  Rather than expecting the world around you to change, you change yourself. Take more time for self-care, including exercise, yoga, or meditation. Seek help if you need it, or talk to a trusted friend about your deepest fears. By saying them out loud, you take away their power.

The Heart Focused Breathing Technique is also very effective in reducing stress. Why? Because it changes you. As the first step in getting coherent, Heart Focused Breathing reminds you where stress is really coming from. You. By combining the simple act of focusing on

the heart area with a deeper level of breathing, you draw energy away from your distressing thoughts and feelings.

Among the benefits of Heart-Centered Breathing, is that it can be practiced anywhere; in the office, on your commute, or even in your next meeting. This eyes-open technique helps you feel grounded, centered, and present in just a few cycles of breath.

By taking the time to reconnect with yourself, you reconnect to that place within you that can handle those emails stress-free.

Learn more about how to practice this technique for office stress, on the job stress, or anytime stress here:

Here is a video of me walking through the technique:

Are You Stuck Waiting To Be Perfect?

Are You Stuck Waiting To Be Perfect?

Are You Stuck Waiting To Be Perfect?

How Perfectionism is Holding You Back


Many of us grow up with the idea that it’s good to be a perfectionist. We want to do our best and be the best. As children, we received gold stars, in school, we made the honor roll, and now? Holding ourselves to perfectionist ideals could be hurting us more than helping.

Perfectionism could be exactly the thing that’s holding you back from true success. 

The Problem with Perfectionism


It would seem as though wanting to be perfect should be a good thing. It would motivate us to work harder, come up with the best ideas, and produce the best work. Unfortunately, that’s not how perfectionism plays out.  


Perfectionism leads to inaction, as our fear of underperforming causes procrastination. We’re either paralyzed and unable to begin, or we work even more hours in pursuit of the ideal, unable to ever complete a task.  


Perfectionism stifles our creativity by boxing us in and limiting our freedom to try new things. By sticking only to what we’re already good at, we fail to build new skills or realize new ideas. 


Perfectionism holds us in a negative state of mind, by labeling everything we do as not quite good enough. A perfectionist is much more attuned to the details of what went wrong than what went right. Even if the big picture is positive, a perfectionist will zero in on a few small things that could have been improved. 


This negativity and inability to reach the highest bar keeps us in a continual state of anxiety and stress. The more we fail to meet that bar, the worse we feel about ourselves, the more our stress increases, and the more we must become perfect just to feel ok. 


We become trapped in a vicious cycle, where, much like a hamster on a wheel, we’re running towards nothing. Why nothing? Because the truth about perfectionism is that it’s an illusion.

The Illusion of Perfection 

One woman’s ‘perfect’ is another woman’s ‘not quite.’ Perfectionism is subjective and it’s changing. Only you can decide what perfect is. So what is it to you, and what have you been expecting or afraid of? 


Are you expecting gold stars or your name on the honor roll again? Often, in our adult lives, we just don’t get that type of feedback. This frequently has nothing to do with you; everyone’s just busy. Let go of your reliance on external praise, and find it on the inside by taking pride in your efforts. 


Are you afraid? If you’re feeling paralyzed by perfection it’s time to look inward and get honest about what it is that you’re afraid of. Perfectionism is fear in disguise. Criticism, suggestions, feedback, or even second place may not feel good in the moment, but they are an important part of your journey. Are you afraid of failure? 


Failure is just as subjective as perfection. For example, if by making a mistake we learn something important, or if by ‘failing’ we end up somewhere new, couldn’t we label that as perfection? 


How to Let Go of Perfectionism


Begin by becoming aware of what’s fueling your perfectionism. Dig deep to reveal you’re true fears. Once you drill down to the core of what’s driving you, it may seem silly and outdated, or you may have revealed what it is that you really need to work on. 


Stop using the words, “I should have,” “I could have,” or “I wish I would have.” Deal with the present in the present by taking positive action, and spend less time ruminating on the past. 


Practice self-acceptance and self-compassion. Ironically, those who are obsessed with being perfect often have low self-esteem. You’re perfect just as you are, and you are exactly where you need to be to learn what you need to learn. 


Set achievable, healthy goals, which is completely different from perfectionism. Celebrate each small achievement to become more aware of all the things you’re currently doing well. 


Remember that success comes in all shapes and sizes, and what success will end up looking like for the future you, might be a surprise to your present-moment self.