6 Tips to Stay Sane in an Insane Workplace
When I began my job, someone already with the company told me I would lose sleep and pull my hair out. They said I would be constantly stressed and miserable. Sitting at that round, shiny wooden table in my ill-fitting blazer, I remember deciding that I was not going to let that happen.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been hard days and weeks, even months. Starting off in a new position is hard. Meeting seemingly unclear or high expectations is hard. But I can truthfully say that two years later, I sleep deeply and still have a full and frizzy head of hair. I can’t summarize every technique, but below are my six favorite tips for staying sane in an insane workplace.

6 Tips to Stay Sane in an Insane Workplace

1. Find Your True Identity and Value

In my opinion, the leading cause of workplace stress is the idea that one’s value is tied solely to position, income, efficiency, or output. None of these things are bad, but deciding that failing one of them means you are a failure is incredibly damaging. Before entering a new position, decide where you will draw your value and what you will prioritize.
Will you derive your identity from work, family, fitness, faith, etc.? If your job and your marriage are somehow at odds, what will you choose? If you have to choose whether to go for a run or complete another after-hours work task, what will you decide? Determining the source of your identity and value and making an action plan to protect that source is vital to thriving in a stressful workplace.

2. Keep a Destresser Nearby

If you could see the bags and bags of tea in the bottom left drawer of my desk, you would laugh. I. Love. Tea. It is calming! But the real reason I drink it at work is not because of its intrinsic calming attributes, it is for another reason altogether. Taking the time to stand up, get hot water, steep the tea, and drink it is cathartic. It is my way of reminding myself that I am going to be okay. It is a self-statement of peace and confidence. I have time to make a cup of tea, in this I am caring for myself, which in turn helps me care for others.
Your short self-care statement could be reading the newspaper, drinking coffee, walking down the hall, or talking to a coworker. Find something that you can do as a way to calm yourself when things are turbulent.

3. Respect Authority

Understanding and respecting the power dynamics in place is very important. Once you know who is above you in the structure, honor them and defer to them. Undermining the authority in place, whether in thought or deed, will poison your psyche.
Unless it is part of your job description, do not make it your goal to constantly change or challenge those above you. Keep the peace within yourself by resigning yourself to your authorities, unless a dire situation should force you otherwise.
[RELATED: 7 Ways to Keep Yourself Healthy When You’re Working a Crazy Schedule]

4. Befriend Your Coworkers

I am blessed with the best coworkers. Many people draw the work/personal line so thick that they hurt their work product. Show me a team that is bonded and can talk and laugh together, and I will show you a team that is ready to remain cohesive in the face of discord.
Do not feel that intimidating your coworkers is the only way to gain respect. Just be yourself and let people get to know you. If done correctly, you will come to work with friends every day and have true allies in your moments of need.

5. Don’t Gossip

The quickest way to pollute the oxygen in a workplace is to gossip about your coworkers, especially to other team members. If you choose to indulge in communal verbal vomit, your job will soon become an echo chamber of your own frustrations. These will reverberate off of the walls and drown out respect and reason. Honoring your team members with your words will help you honor them with your actions.
There is no room for dishonoring actions on a cohesive and effective team. Further, if you choose to dwell on the iniquities of your coworkers, your dysfunction with them will increase. Want to know what is really stressful in a workplace? Dysfunction within the team.

6 Choose Joy

Do you know the feeling of being too full for salad but suddenly being “less” full when you see the decadent chocolate dessert? It is almost like you were able to choose to be hungry when it was something you really wanted to eat. That, my dear, is the way I see joy.
We can often have good reason not to choose it, perhaps your child kept you up late into the night or you have been training for the half-marathon you willy-nilly signed up for without realizing how out of shape you are (Just me? Oh). Whatever the reason that you feel entitles you to be disgruntled, I am sure it is valid.
That being said, it is not worth it. If you choose joy at 2:35 PM when you would rather choose to cry or gossip, then joy will choose you next time. I’m not meaning in a “karma” sort of way. If you give joy home in your heart and if you make it your default, these postures will come naturally to you when you need it. Instead of magnifying a way that your coworker is aching you, rejoice in their strengths or in how comfortable your chair is or for the way the sun is reflecting off of your window.
Choose joy. Choose joy. Choose joy. It doesn’t always feel that simple, but it will always make you happier. Exercise your Joy muscles, make them sweaty and strong, and make them ready. Then enjoy them.
None of these things are quick fixes. I fail often. I cried in frustration at my desk today, I just tossed something on the ground and cried. But do you know what? The daily small steps I have taken each day for the last few years have helped me grow. I am far from perfect, but I sleep deeply and have a life. I think that is enough for now.

Hi, I'm Anna!

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