While R2D2 and C3P0 provide some very necessary comic relief, they also show us that there is a lot we can learn for dealing with stress in the workplace. R2D2 is forced to rush and save the day at least once per movie (sometimes while under laser fire) and C3P0 is often stuck holding the bag for other people's actions or mistakes. Talk about pressure.
So, what can we learn from those two lovable hunks of metal when it comes to dealing with stress in the workplace? Here's a short list of do's and don'ts.
Do: Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Over the course of the first six movies, R2D2 spends a lot of his time either on the wing of a ship that's under heavy fire from the bad guys, or he's racing around trying to get his friends out of trouble. The great thing about Artoo (yes, that's how you spell it - we checked) is that he isn't distracted by what's going on around him. It doesn't matter that beams of fiery laser death are flying all over the place or that his friends are screaming while being crushed in a trash compactor. He focuses on the solution to what's happening, on how to solve the problem. You can cope with your stress and feeling of powerlessness by focusing on something that is actionable as well as concentrating on moving forward.
Don't: Blame others. C3P0 spends half his screen time blaming the people (or other droids) around him when things go wrong. What does that do for him? Nothing but drive those around him nuts (get it? because he's a robot...made with nuts and bolts...never mind). Anyway, when we blame others in the workplace it doesn't relieve stress by shifting the problem to someone else it just causes a chronic situation where the same problems come up again and again. Rather than exacerbate the issue by pointing the finger, be open minded with your approach to the problem. When you're more concerned about solving the issues and improving the situation than you are about protecting your pride, you can find the issues much less exasperating.
Do: Ask for help. Even the snarky, pessimistic Threepio needed some help occasionally. He was blown into pieces at least twice and had to be carried and/or reassembled. There's no shame in asking for a hand up when you need one. If things are getting to be too much then ask a colleague or your boss for some help. You don't have to go it alone.
Don't: Overload your circuits. Remember during the battle on Endor in Return of the Jedi when the R2D2 tries to open the blast doors of the Death Star II shield generator's bunker? Unfortunately for the little droid, his circuits were completely overloaded by the security system and he was useless for the rest of the battle. We might not be made of wires, but our circuits can still get overloaded when we try and focus on too many things at once. A couple of ways to keep from overloading would be to take a few minutes each month to unsubscribe from emails, newsletters and blogs you are getting no value from any longer. They clutter your inbox and it's just junk you don't need. You can also help to lighten the load by keeping your daily to-do list short. Try keeping it to 1-3 major items for a day to keep yourself from long lists that seem insurmountable.
For more tips there's a Huffington Post article, "20 Scientifically Backed Ways To De-Stress Right Now," that has some excellent suggestions for managing stress.
May the force be with you.
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