We all run to the rescue when a team member is going through a life-changing event, but when someone is experiencing day-to-day stress in the workplace, we too often overlook their troubles and treat it as a normal cost of doing business.
April is Stress Awareness Month — and poses good time to reflect on your organization’s stress-reduction policies, programs and support systems — or lack thereof. We as individual leaders also need to make sure we have solid stress-management mechanisms in place.
Personally, I tend to cope with stress by stepping away from the digital noise and focusing on a good book — or several. It’s an escape that gives me time to process and not wallow in the day-to-day tasks that can lead to stress. But everyone handles stress differently. What’s important is that you actually meet it head-on and address it rather than ignoring it and allowing it to build into something truly harmful to your health and wellness.
I asked my colleagues for tips on how they either alleviate their own work-related stress or identify it in others so they can help. Here’s what they said.
Devin practices & preaches: “Exercise Regularly”
“For people who get easily frustrated, or lose their cool or composure when stressed, I often recommend that they incorporate more physical activity that involves some sort of strenuous pushing, pulling, lifting or other action. Physical activity can serve as a release valve for work stress and the visible aggravation or exasperation that sometimes comes with it. For example, I once recommended that someone take a boxing class because she was struggling to manage her frustration and even anger in the workplace due to stress.
But even if you’re not punching a bag, regular exercise is important. Personally, I’m at the gym five or six days a week working out if I can. If you are a successful professional or executive and you don’t do some sort of regular exercise, it’s going to catch up with you. You have a busy, productive, stressful work life and if you don’t do something to counteract that, you’re going to suffer the consequences.”
Gloria says “Reset Perspective”
“When things aren’t going the way I planned, something bad has happened or I’m concerned or worried about something, it often helps to reset my perspective on the adverse situation with an honest and objective assessment about how bad the situation really is. I’ve asked myself, “Who died?” or “Is this the end of the world?” And if the answer is “no one” or “no,” I can dial back the stress knob by 50 or 60 clicks. Asking and answering these questions, or questions like this, helps me let go of regret or worry and avoid wasting energy on things that, in the grand scheme of things, are not really a big deal.”
Cay recommends to “Learn the Signs of Stress”
“I think it’s beneficial to be able to identify when team members are stressed. The easiest way to identify a co-worker who fits the bill is often by noticing sudden changes in personality. For example, if your co-worker suddenly becomes much more quiet in the workplace or noticeably abrupt in interpersonal communications, it’s a good chance they’re experiencing increased levels of stress.
To help your colleague alleviate stress, offer help if you can. If you can’t actually provide assistance, don’t make an empty gesture. Instead, consider directing the co-worker to others who can help, offer to take a walk with the colleague or perhaps take them to lunch.”
Tamara remembers to “Focus on Your Strengths and Successes”
“When I talk to friends, family or colleagues who are overwhelmed by a high-pressure event or stressful situation, my first step is to always tell them to take a moment to go over their past successes and their abilities that helped them achieve those. Next, I recommend prioritizing what is most important to get the job done, then mapping out the first step you need to take to make it happen. In these situations I think it’s important to remember how you’ve handled similar situations in the past and come through the other side successfully. Remembering that “yes, you can do this” can be a powerful confidence builder and stress reducer.”
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