It is usually exciting as well as profitable to work for the result-oriented organisations: efficiently done quality work is paid well. It’s only later that we realise how tired we are! There are moments, when stress can have positive impact on our professional lives and career. Positive stress helps to get switch on, to increase effectiveness and motivation. Specialists call it eustress – a beneficial or good stress. It is a healthy response to some situations (such as, for example, the first day at new work or presentation of the project results), which gives us a feeling of fulfilment, achievement, hope and vigour. More often, however, we deal with negative stress, which blocks our effectiveness, creativity and motivation. It also has harmful effects on our mental, psychological and physical health. It is important to find the ways to avoid or overcome potentially damaging effects of stress. Bellow I offer a few tips on how to deal with/in stress related situations.
1. Values and interests. It may sound patronizing, but it is important to have values and interests beyond the work. Each of us needs some time for our family and friends but also for our hobbies. The real challenge is to strike a good balance between different spheres of life. Without such a balance, something may easily get missing in our lives. Do you remember the example of John and Martin from one of my previous posts? Each of these two characters had to confront certain difficulties and each responded differently. John had never understood the roots of his problems, whereas Martin had learned the importance of life balance. Sometimes we really need to get a certain shake-up or an awakening call, but this doesn’t need to be too radical or happen too often.
2. To step aside. Imagine that you have left on a holiday and look at your work while relaxing somewhere on a warm beach. How does it make you feel? Placing yourself in this situation may help to free your working space, define your priorities and focus on the essentials. If you struggle to envisage yourself in this situation, imagine your friend or colleague. What would you advise them to do?
3. Breathing. When in a stressful situation we breathe fast and shallow. It is known as clavicular or chest breathing. It is the shallowest type of breathing, which doesn’t bring enough oxygen into our lungs. This is the way we breathe in stressful situations. When we are relaxed, peaceful and calm, we breathe deeper and slower. When you feel that stress is approaching, try to breathe deeper for a minute or two. By practicing deep breathing regularly, you will learn to switch your states and to relax whenever it is necessary.
4. Change of scenery. When you feel that stress is mounting, change the scenery. It doesn’t need to be radical. Often it is enough to get outside, to peer into the distance, to walk along a corridor or simply to smile. This will break up the pattern of the stress dynamics and its development.
5. Check your thoughts. We are often fixed on a particular thought, which may block the entire work process and its effectiveness. Try to spot this thought and find out how does it lead to a stressful state. Once you have spotted it, you can replace it with another thought, this time a positive one.
6. Water. It may sound very simple, but by drinking lukewarm water you restart positive processes in your body. The lack of water leads not only to dehydration but also to general weakness and fatigue.
7. A talk with a manager, mentor or coach. Have a talk with a person you trust who is not in the state of the negative stress. It is very well possible that such a person has discovered a strategy how to avoid a stress. Ask this person about their thoughts, feelings and reactions to external irritants. Try to apply their positive experiences in your own life.
8. Sleep. If you feel stressful, try to analyse your sleep pattern. What time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep can you afford? It is important to establish and maintain a regular bed-time routine. If possible, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Try to avoid reading in bed, keep away and switched off your phone and other electronic devices. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine may keep you awake much longer than you may like to. You can check some other healthy sleep tips by following this link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips
9. Food. In stress situations people turn to choose one of the two extremes: eating too much or not eating at all. Try to avoid any of them and follow your regular diet even in the most stressful situations.
10. Visualisation. I have prepared for you an audio file, which will help you to visualise yourself in peace and find an exit from a stressful situation. Please, follow this link.
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players…”
(W. Shakespeare, As You Like It)
We believe that each and every one of us is not only a leading actor but first and foremost a writer of our own destiny. Overwhelmed by life events, we may unintentionally forget that we are the sole playwrights of our own lives. We may even unwittingly drop or lose the thread of our unfolding life story. Then, we start questioning ourselves and let others do the writing for us. Doesn’t this happen to all of us occasionally? The best thing we can do is to resume the leadership as soon as we can: only we should write the play of our life!
With the renewed confidence and new skills, we design new perspectives. Coaching and training are the best instruments we use to achieve this goal.