Stress is something we all deal with every day. To run a successful business, you have to wear many hats and change them at a moment’s notice, and keep a number of balls in the air at any one time.
Stress is such a part of our daily lives that the idea of “stress management” has become a popular phrase.
The Mayo Clinic reports that, “Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life.” As for the cause of stress, they explain that the brain becomes hard-wired with an alarm system designed for protection. “When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.”
Although stress is a natural part of life, no one can live with it long term as it can wreak havoc on both health and focus. You have to find ways to reduce its impact on your life and business or suffer the consequences.
Dr. Joel & Michelle Levey, founders of Wisdom at Work, have come up with seven strategies that help increase stress resilience.
1. Practice mindful communications.
When speaking to others, it is easy to let your mind wander to your own thoughts. Mindful communications means developing the capacity to “stay in the moment” with whomever you are speaking with. Focus and refocus your attention on the person talking and the experience of the moment.
2. Don’t let stress accumulate.
Your body lets you know what it needs and only functions properly when you provide the relief: you eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty. If you have an ache or a pain, don’t ignore the distress signals. Seek ways to alleviate the discomfort. Take a break from work, take a nap, exercise, or get a medical check-up. Find what works for you and do it regularly.
3. Center yourself.
Pause throughout the day to center yourself. Step away from the computer and bring your life into focus again, like a short meditation. Live in the moment and ask yourself how you are doing at that point in time.
When we’re stressed, we may take short, erratic breaths. When you feel stress coming on, practice deep breathing. Close your eyes and inhale deeply and fully, then exhale slowly. Do this several times throughout the day.
5. Be kinder.
While you may say, “I am kind to others,” are you able to say that about yourself? Give yourself permission to take a longer lunch or take an extra day off, if possible. The world won’t crumble if you check out for a few hours.
6. Find your zone.
Look for the balance between burnout (too much challenge) and rust out (too little meaning). If you work strictly for money, you’ll eventually lose your motivation, whereas if you do something you love but cannot making ends meet, you’ll also feel the impact. Try to find a happy medium.
7. Live and work purposefully.
Once you discover where you can make your greatest impact, do everything you can to stay true to that purpose.
Learning to manage workplace stress doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Just know you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react and handle a situation. Above all, learn to focus on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.