Easy to say. Harder to do.
Stress is the silent assassin of our work and home lives. It can be debilitating, so we avoid it at all costs.
We even avoid talking about it.
Sure, we say ‘work’s stressful’ and things like that but rarely do we have an honest conversation about how it’s affecting us and what it means.
The biggest problem is that we dwell on the cause of the stress, rather than thinking about stress itself. Our finances, our deadlines, our relationships… we think about all these things and how they are causing us stress.
What we really should do is look at the actual stress response and how we react.
One of the most simple things that we can do to combat stress is to have a strategy for when it hits. But we need to know how and when stress actually affects us to have the cure to implement the strategy.
When Will Stress Get You?
Knowing what triggers stress for you is crucial to combatting stress. If we are prepared, we deal with it better. And this is true for any stress - work stress, the stress of public speaking, performance anxiety stress - it all works from the same mechanism.
So, at the start of your week, know when you are most likely to get stressed. Do you have a deadline coming up? Is there a morning that you need to get the kids out of the house early for school? Do you have a particularly busy day?
Once you know ahead of time what is going to stress you, you can be more prepared. Then, you can implement part two:
What’s Your Strategy?
When we know how we are going to deal with stress ahead of time, we are almost 300% more likely to be able to implement the strategy. Thinking of a strategy while actually under stress is a losing proposition.
So know your strategy ahead of time:
With the deadline approaching, I am going to take 5-minute mini-breaks to do some breathing exercises.
When I have to get the kids out the door early, I am going to prepare lunches the night before (or let them order tuckshop).
On this particularly busy day, I am going to take time out to walk around the block in between meetings to clear my head.
These are two simple things that we can do to combat stress before it grabs a hold of us. But they require us to embrace stress, to say “I know I am going to be stressed, and so here is what I am going to do.”
** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. His insights into performance science and it's application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.