“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.” - Jane Wagner
Everyone experiences stress. If you’re without a plan to help you deal with stress, your company may eventually need a plan to help deal with you.
Stress is what happens when we continue to function at elevated levels of activity without planned periodic downtime. If we continue pushing the envelope, we set ourselves up for fatigue, anxiousness, depleted and a mental capacity leaving us feeling overwhelmed with even the lightest workload.
To maintain optimum mental, physical and spiritual health, and wellbeing, we must have a plan for overcoming stress before it overwhelms us.
Stress is a normal part of everyday life; at normal levels, it serves a purpose. Healthy forms of stress can certainly motivate you such as when deadlines are looming, taking on new responsibilities after a promotion or experiencing a career change. These normal levels of stress are fine short-term but can interfere with your mental and physical health, family and social relationships.
Many studies estimate that 50% of the American population experiences conflict with their family, friends, and co-workers because of elevated levels of stress. Some studies report that nearly seven out of ten have admitted experiencing physical and emotional stress related symptoms at one time or another.
There is another kind of stress I term Traumatic Stress though not within the scope of this article, I thought it helpful to list some here. Seeking the help of a professional in these fields are required to get through them.
The death of a loved one
Serious chronic illness
What Are Some Causes of Normal Work-Related Stress?
Taking on too much responsibility
Being unhappy with your job or career path
Poor decision making
Unhealthy work environment
Loss of a job
5 Tips to Help You Manage Stress
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” - Steve Maraboli
1. Downtime for Your Mind
I recommend finding time to clear your mind; your brain will thank you. There are many things you can do to recharge your thinking capacity; some enjoy long walks in a park or trail, others meditation or quiet time so you can relax and decompress. I enjoy quiet times in the early morning. I read and do some breathing exercises to clear my head as well. Sometimes I’ll sit quietly focusing on one thing, taking some deep breaths while listening to the early morning sounds around me. I do this before sunrise, my objective being to give my brain a rest.
2. Write Down Your Thoughts
I write my thoughts down; I’ve been journaling since 1980 and find it very helpful for committing my thoughts to paper. There’s something about writing that helps clear my mind, organize my thoughts or just expressing my own opinions on any number of things. I find journaling to have a positive impact on my emotions, especially listing things I’m grateful for, even the smallest things make it into my journal. Take some time at night or in the morning to record your thoughts and feelings. You can even use the time to draw up a to-do list; it’s organizing your thoughts that helps, use whatever sets your mind at ease.
3. Regular Exercise
I know many responsible leaders who schedule regular high-intensity cardio workouts several times a week. I prefer a five to seven thousand steps walk around the lake in the park following my early morning visit to the weight room. Some research shows that exercise has a healthy impact on such things as anger, stress, frustration, and anxiety.
4. Connect with Like-Minded People
It helps to have a circle of like-minded friends you can discuss any number of things, from problem-solving to asking advice to just venting about something. Knowing you’re not the only one experiencing certain things helps. Discussing challenges, obstacles, or how to handle a relationship (work related or otherwise) can help you put things into perspective. Surround yourself with trusted people who relate and can be a support to you.
5. Find Your Sweet Spot
As I’ve gotten older, I had to face the reality that pushing myself as I did when I was younger no longer works. I learned to pace myself to avoid fatigue and exhaustion, even burnout. I set boundaries for myself, one day a week my wife and I schedule nothing business related. Mondays belong to us it’s a no work day. We might take an hour or two separately for a personal hobby or recreation, but we spend the rest of the day together. Taking one day a week for relaxing has done wonders for our mental, emotional and physical health.
“Stress is the trash of modern life-we all generate it, but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” - Danzae Pace
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***