As a coach and trainer, I’ve come to recognize that stress is one of the most common problems that professionals struggle with on a day-to-day basis.
Along with position comes great responsibility, but in order for you to effectively manage and lead others, it is vitally important that you are diligent about taking care of yourself as well. And knowing how to manage stress that comes your way is a large part of exercising self-care.
Stress can come from many directions:
• The shipment you’ve been waiting for was sent to the wrong address.
• Miscommunication among departments has caused confusion and chaos.
• Your deadlines are piling up, but you have three meetings you need to attend today!
• You just got a call from the school, and your child has a 102° fever.
Situations like these have the potential to set your mind into a tailspin, which can quickly take a toll on you physically, emotionally and relationally.
Here are some indicators that you might be experiencing too much stress:
1. Your mind is racing
2. You are worried, irritable or upset
3. Your are preoccupied and find it hard to concentrate
4. You find it hard to fall or stay asleep at night
I’d like to share a few tips with you to help lower your stress levels, without even leaving your desk:
1) Stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. This instantly allows more oxygen to flow throughout your entire body, especially the brain, helping you to think more clearly.
2) Learn to control your thinking. Here is a quick mental exercise that is very effective for taking control of stressful thoughts:
a. Recognize when a situation is causing you stress (see the indicators mentioned above).
b. Mentally, imagine a big red stop sign in front of you.
c. Say to yourself, “Stop!” Say it out loud, if that helps. By doing so, you are arresting the negative thought processes.
d. Immediately replace the stressful thought with something positive. For example, imagine a positive outcome to your problem. Or, think of something or someone that makes you happy.
3) Appeal to your senses. Therapists have determined that listening to music actually can reduce our blood pressure, lower our heart rate and relax our breathing. Put on music that relaxes or uplifts you. The music found to be most effective for relaxation is classical.
4) Make entries in your stress log. Download a copy here…
Based on your entries, decide if you are responding appropriately to the situation that is causing you stress.
5) Determine a solution. If there is nothing you can do to change the situation, make a conscious decision to simply “let it go”. Too often, we spend energy stressing over things that we cannot change. Instead, focus on what you CAN change, and take action in that direction.
As Napoleon Hill once said, “You are the master of your destiny.” I would like to add to that by stating that you are also the master of your own stress. By making deliberate decisions to minimize stress in your life, you will find that you are more empowered to effectively lead others …while enjoying your job more in the process.
Until next time, lead well!