The No-Stress Way to Manage Stress
Organizational leaders are dealing with unparalleled sources of stress. Pressures to outperform, rapidly adapt to economic shifts, keep up with the competition – these are just some of the factors corporate executives must deal with on a daily basis. All of this stress, however, eventually takes its toll.
Do you deal with your work stress?
The problem is not only do leaders experience high levels of stress, the bigger problem lies in stress management strategies – or the lack there of. Instead of dealing with stress in a healthy way, we generally ignore it – shoving it under the rug by using caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol and even sleep aids. Instead of using exercise and nutrition to maintain good health, these are often the first things to slip off the to-do list.
How the body responds to stress
Sure you can continue to work hard and push the pedal to the metal, but you should be concerned. When you experience higher levels of stress the body is in a constant state of activation, which leads to an increased rate of wear and tear on your biological systems.
The results range from physical damage (think high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke), fatigue (“I’m dead tired and I just can’t do it any more”), to poor psychological functioning (anger, indecision, emotionally reactive).
How stress impacts your job performance
There is a definite correlation between stress and job performance. Dr. Williamson of Duke University Medical Center explains: “Blood is shunted away from organs into muscles…your brain is scrambled, your thinking process doesn’t work well, your judgment is clouded. It’s very difficult to think clearly.” This leads to poor focus, low clarity, and weak decision-making.
Early warning signs
If you have a high-stress job, be aware of these early warning signs:
- Feeling stressed
- Feeling overwhelmed with daily tasks and pressures
- Being irritable or frustrated
- Feeling lightheaded or having heart palpitations
- Diarrhea and nausea
- Back pain or muscle spasms
- Frequent illnesses
- Feeling depressed
- The right response to stress
While experts agree that high levels of stress are dangerous, they are also manageable. The key is to address chronic and high stress levels by learning how to successfully disengage from the situation. Dr. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement recommend: “limiting exposure to stress to 90 to 120 minutes and then switching gears for at least 5 to 10 minutes to help the body and brain recover energy… Our bodies are begging us for a chance to recover.”
More tips for dealing with stress
When you feel like you’re teetering into the danger zone, or you experience early warning signs, take control of the situation and learn how to manage your stress. Here are a few tips:
- Learn your response signs. Become familiar with your body’s unique way of responding to stress. Identifying these signs early on will help you choose a response strategy – before it’s too late.
- Make your health a priority. Engage in frequent exercise – choose something that you can fit into your routine. Exercise helps you deal with stress by boosting your immunity, lowering anxiety and helping you sleep better. Also consider what you eat. A diet consisting of lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruits will give your general health a boost.
- Get help. Find a mentor or coach with whom you can talk through problems at work or other stressors. Your coach can help you identify the things in your life that are priorities, and those that are sapping your energy and time.
- Practice recovery. Just like athletes engage in recovery after workouts, leaders can use this practice to disengage from periods of intense activities and stressful work situations. The Center for Creative Leadership recommends taking “real and frequent breaks,” and advises executives to take “a 10-minute break every 90 minutes and that you allow yourself a vacation after an extended push on a project or assignment.”
- Meditate. Meditation works – particularly for those of us with hectic work schedules. But consider meditation is more than sitting cross-legged and humming. For some, it can mean doodling on a piece of paper over a morning cup of coffee. For others, it can mean listening to music. For yet others, it can mean taking a walk around the block.
Stress isn’t going to go away, especially for executives and senior-level personnel. Take a moment today to unplug. As little as 5-10 minutes will leave you refreshed and reenergized before you launch into your next heavy work project or stressful situation. It will also make the difference in how you approach situations and the outcomes you achieve.
Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional. She specializes in coaching professional and executive clients, and providing career advancement strategies. Copyright JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.
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Wishing you much career success!
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
Looking for insightful, tailored career coaching or retirement planning? Contact us today to learn how you can fast-track your career and create a life you’ll love.
Wishing you much career success!
Joanne Loberg Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc