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Three Ways to Mitigate Microstress

The Little Things Get in the Way


Stress vs. Microstress

In our harried, interconnected world, most of us are far more familiar with “stress” than we’d like to be. Lurking just beneath our radar, however, is the more insidious cousin of stress… microstress. Microstressors are little things that bother you but which don’t hit you in the face like big-time stressors. Think of a succession of last-minute “surprise” projects, rather than company-wide layoffs.

Harvard Business Review has a great, in-depth article about how microstressors can add up and impact even the highest-performing workers, which you can read here: https://hbr.org/2023/02/the-hidden-toll-of-microstress . In this blog, though, we’ll focus on three ways to mitigate microstress in the business world: Delegation, Curation, and Organization.


Delegate to Mitigate Microstress

With all the demands on our time–be they in the home, at work, or social–it’s easy for things to fall by the wayside. And, every time something slips, that can be a microstressor or a full-blown stressor. One of the most essential ways to avoid those slips is to have a built-in group you can go to for assistance. If you’re lucky enough to be in a management position within a large organization, this can be as easy as delegating to subordinates. However, anyone can access a support network with virtual assistants. This allows you to focus on high-value tasks and manage your schedule more effectively.


Curate to Mitigate Microstress

The more difficult flip side of delegation is curation. Because microstress crops up from so many factors, it’s easy for an asset to become a liability. So, where delegation might have you reaching for the largest support group possible, curation reminds you to keep only high-value contacts close. Just like you prune the limbs of a tree which don’t bear fruit, it’s best to limit your exposure to contacts who bring a lot of baggage and not a lot of support.


Organize to Mitigate Microstress

Organization is the bane of microstress. However, it is a balancing act. Organization that looks like fluttering reams of post-its and sounds like the constant ding of calendar notifications on a half-dozen apps can start feeling like it’s not the answer to the microstress, it is the microstress. Often, the simplest and best solution to organization is the analog one people have been using for centuries. A paper and pencil day planner. No frills, no bells and whistles. Just a simple armature for structuring your day which allows you to plan and to smoothly pivot when plans change.


Breathe In, Breathe Out

Once you can delegate, curate, and organize, all your microstress and stress is gone, right? Unfortunately, no. These tools will help, but there will always be circumstances and situations which arise that this tool kit won’t cover. In those situations, remember to be fluid. Breathe in, breathe out. Accept the challenge for what it is and, with the help of your tool kit, rise above it.

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