As a human person and professional stylist, you know that stress is an inevitable part of day-to-day life. Regardless of how much you love your job, or how sincerely you appreciate your clients, or how happy and prepared you are when you go into the salon each morning, stress will come a-knocking anyway, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it. So here are some tips for managing your workplace stress, so you can at least prevent it from becoming an ongoing problem.

1. Identify your symptoms. Stress doesn’t always announce itself when it busts into your life. Sometimes it sneaks in slowly, making you feel its presence before you have the wherewithal to call it out. You can’t deal with stress effectively if you don’t even know that you’re stressed, so monitor yourself and figure out what your cues are. If you know that a tense jaw + headache = stress according to your body math, you’ll be able to get a head start on managing it the next time stress rolls around.

2. Give yourself permission to feel stressed. Even though we know that stress is natural (and sometimes even helpful), a lot of us manage to feel guilty about experiencing it anyway. It’s like we associate stress with some kind of failing or inability, and we punish ourselves for it by feeling even more stressed. This kind of thinking is toxic, to say the least, and it can lead to longer-lasting anxiety issues. So nip it in the bud by acknowledging that stress is a feeling (not a failing) that your body is giving you so that you can make things better. You have every right to experience and benefit from stress. It doesn’t make you a lesser stylist.

3. Confide in someone. It might feel weird at first, but telling another stylist or confidante about your stress can instantly relieve some of the burden that goes along with it. You don’t need to make a big deal of it; just choose someone you trust (excluding clients, for professional reasons) and give them a simple heads up about your emotional state. “I’m feeling kind of stressed,” will do. And who knows? Maybe they’re feeling the same way as you are. Or maybe they’re in a position to help. Either way, they’ll probably appreciate the context for your other-than-standard disposition. It’s a win-win.

4. Take breaks. Stress has a nasty way of messing with your focus, so on days where it’s bearing down on you, take advantage of your rest time. Whether it’s a 5-minute gap between appointments or an hour-long lunch break, take the opportunity to step outside, change your perspective, and reset your mind. Skipping breaks and distracting yourself with other work will only leave you feeling drained at the end of the day.

5. Evaluate the problem. Hopefully once you’ve completed the aforementioned steps, you’ll feel a little more centered than you did when the stress first showed up. Now you can start thinking about the reasons for why you’re feeling stressed. Ask yourself, “What was different about today compared to my standard workday?” “Why did that difference make me feel unnerved?” “Does this type of thing usually make me feel stressed, or is it a unique situation?” Answering these questions can give you some insight into the circumstances that produced your stress response, and pave the way to a resolution. Even if your stress stemmed from something outside of your control—say, an unusually busy workday—there’s some comfort to be had in knowing that all that’s left for you to do is wait it out.

6. Be proactive. Once you know which situations are likely to stress you out at work, you can act in advance to minimize those stressors. Put some systems in place to spoof up your salon organization, if you’re the kind of stylist who can’t stand clutter, or update your appointment scheduling procedures to reflect your new client base. You can even plan in advance for your stressful days by making your favorite de-stressors available in your workspace. I’m sure everyone will benefit from having a coffee maker and some stress balls within arm’s reach.

What are your strategies for managing workplace stress? Tell us in the comments below!