“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” – Danzae Pace
- Acknowledge your stress. Ignoring the symptoms of stress or beating yourself for feeling stressed only causes more stress. We all have individual stressors and stress symptoms. Own and acknowledge them, then develop your plan to manage them.
- Manage your stress symptoms first. Get the symptoms under control; then work on the solution. When you are feeling tense, wired and stressed out, you simply cannot function at your peak level. Stress manifests itself physically and mentally. Change one of those and the other will follow. For example, a few deep breaths will bring your heart rate under control, which means you can then think more clearly. If your mind is racing, slam on the mental brakes and change direction for just a moment. Think of something positive. Go to your happy place. When you do that, your mental state becomes more relaxed and your heart stops racing.
- Manage your stressors next. When you are in a more relaxed mental and physical state, take some time to identify your stressors. What is the real stressor? Sometimes the situation we react to is not the real stressor; it’s simply the stressor that put us over the edge. Start writing things down. Which situations are the ones that are the root of the problem? Which ones would perhaps not be stressors if other stressors were dealt with?
- Ask yourself “Is this danger (stressor) real or imagined?” Those symptoms of stress you are feeling is your brain sending your body the message ‘You are in danger.’ Some dangers are real. If you have only 20 minutes to get to a meeting 30 minutes away, you simply do not have enough time to get there before the meeting starts. Sometimes the missing resource is money or knowledge. Some dangers are imagined and it is our perception of ourselves, our world or those around us that make us feel like we are in a dangerous situation. For example, lack of knowledge is not the same thing as stupidity. Believing we or the people around us are stupid and bound to fail is an imagined danger.
- Don’t minimize imagined dangers. Imagined dangers must be dealt with as well. Taking the time to change the way we perceive ourselves and those around us is a necessary part of the stress management journey.
- Develop a plan to manage real dangers. If you don’t have the money, the support, the knowledge you need, you either need to reduce the expectation or increase the resource. If you are constantly running out time, what are you going to do that change it? Plans provide direction. The plans may not bring instant relief, but knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel brings a measure of comfort.
- Be aware of the stress symptoms and stressors of those around you. Do what you can to help your team members. After all, if they are less stressed, you are less stressed. It’s a win-win!
What are some things you do to manage stress? We all have our own tips, tricks and techniques. If you have one that works for you, please share it as it may just help someone else as well.
If you’re interested in more information and ideas on managing stress, click here.