"The ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense stress lies at the heart of effective leadership." ~Jim Loehr
"Close scrutiny will show that most "crisis situations" are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are." -Maxwell Maltz
We’ve all been there. You walk in the door and are greeted with your team, boss, or customers telling you the 5 things that need to be done immediately. You’ve got 3 presentations to give in the next week in addition to your regular work. The new product is launching on Friday and you’re missing a critical aspect of it. STRESS!!! It seems like today’s work environments are havens for stress as we try to stuff more and more work into our work day (or have a boss who wants to stuff more and more into our workday).
The thing is, stress doesn’t help us to do our best work. It might put some pressure on us to get a project across the “finish line”, but anyone who has rushed to meet a deadline knows that it is rarely your best work. And it effects our productivity long after the incident is over. Successful people manage their stress just like they manage other aspects of their work; like their time management, priorities, and learning new skills. This allows them to stay at peak efficiency and not sacrifice quality of work or quality of life.
So how do you do what they do?
Take action - Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress. Think through the pros and cons of those options and take action where you can. Taking action not only addresses the stress, but help ease the fear of the unknown and gives us a sense of accomplishment. And you don’t need to get it right immediately, you can experiment with different options until you find something that works. Successful stress managers evolve their techniques constantly.
Manage time – Across almost every study on stress, the leading issue is “time.” And even if time isn’t your particular stress inducer, having more of it can help you address your stress through all of the other means on this list. Successful people make the most of every bit of time they have so that they accomplish more. The keys to time management are focus, priorities and planning. If you want some tips on increasing your productivity, check out this list of 20 Productivity Hacks.
Make the most of your personal time – The work/life balance debate usually focuses on how your work effects your personal life, and stress from the job can certainly have a negative effect. But what doesn’t get as much press is how your personal life can affect your work. If you are engaged with friends outside of work, exploring and nurturing hobbies you enjoy and being otherwise fulfilled outside of work, your stress level at work will come down.
Find ways to relax – Because stress is an inhibitor to our best work, it’s essential that you are able to manage it “on the fly” as it comes up. Successful people utilize tricks that can help them in the moment. Whether it is as simple as a few deep breaths, stretching their legs outside for a few minutes, or listening to some music. Relaxing your body will help relax your mind as well. And speaking of that…
Take care of your body – There is a direct link between physical well-being and mental well-being. Getting exercise, eating better, sleeping and avoiding the crutch of alcohol are all things that we all know we should do, but successful people make a priority. If you take care of your body, you’ll be able to fight off the negative effects of stress better and you’ll be able to deal with it better in the moment.
Get great self-talk – We’re constantly trying to prove ourselves to others, why not use that proof to empower yourself. Many times we make our stress bigger than it is and fan the flames of our own demise by thinking the worst of the situation and our abilities. Successful people don’t fall into this trap because they have empowering inner monologues. Reflect on all of the successes you have had in handling stress, meeting deadlines, dealing with uncertainty or whatever it is that you are facing. You already have all the proof you need that you can handle whatever you are facing, so get in touch with it.
Accept that stress happens – There’s no sense getting caught in the “why me” trap. Stress happens, and if you accept this, you’ll be quicker to deal with it when it comes up next. Successful people treat stress like other recurring inconveniences and simply take care of it.
How you handle stress is one of the main indicators to how far you will go in your career. Whether it is with the above techniques, or a technique of your own, you owe it to yourself to find a healthy way of managing it.