I don’t have any stress at all.
I have some stress, but I don’t need more.
I have a lot of stress doing my job.
I have a lot of stress dealing with my boss
I have a lot of stress in my personal life (better half, kids, home maintenance, etc.)
OMG! – My stress level increased just reading all the above!
On a scale of 0 to 5, how much is your stress level as you read this? Would you be able to identify the sources of your stress?
We live in dynamic times where change, uncertainty and stress are happening faster and more frequently. Conflict resolution, production delays, yet another task added to our to-do list, stress is always there, like drops of water ready to overflow the beautiful vase of our well-being and civility. There is no way out!
We are living in dynamic times where change, uncertainty and stress occur more rapidly and frequently. Attitudes and emotions, even others’ ones, can often lead to painful situations in the workplace when not properly managed, and negatively affect individual and group performance.
You will find in this article a few recommendations to better manage your stress and your performance.
I FEEL STRESSED: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
In the Larousse dictionary, stress is defined as being a set of biological and psychological disturbances caused by any aggression on an organism.
When faced with danger, stress temporarily mobilizes all the attention and reflexes of an individual who feels threatened to enable him to react with maximum efficiency. Up to a certain point, stress is therefore necessary, and even beneficial. This is called “positive stress”.
However, stress becomes negative when it becomes too intense and/or when it is spread out over time. At that point, stress is not good neither for health nor performance, and can lead to illness or depression.
SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
Stress is caused by the need to restore balance when faced with threats or changes and/or the need to perform. It is manifested in three stages: awareness, resistance, and exhaustion.
The body reacts to stress with physical responses that help cope with situations that are considered threatening. Even our thoughts can create a physical reaction to stress. Here are some of them (not an exhaustive list):
- Shortness of breath, even at rest
- Tightness (throat, chest, stomach, shoulders, neck, jaw, muscle contractions)
- Dry mouth
- Headaches and migraines
- Back and/or neck pain
- Anxiety and impatience
- Cold hands and feet
- Stomach aches and rumbling
Mental and emotional symptoms:
- A global decrease of intellectual performance. Our judgment is clouded, and we are prone to making rash decisions just to get rid of a problem.
- Impaired reasoning, concentration, and memory
- Difficulty in accessing feelings
- Lack of coordination
- Frequent mistakes
- Anxiety, phobias, panic attacks
- Feeling of persecution, aggressiveness
- Skepticism, guilt
- Mood swings, crying spells
- Loss of sense of humor
- Increased smoking
- Drinking more alcohol
- Eating disorders (bulimia or anorexia)
- Loss of appetite
- Sloppy appearance
- Aggressive driving
- Obsessive thoughts
WHY ALL THIS STRESS?
Stress sources in our private lives are numerous: poor time management, multiple activities, traffic, our relationships with our halves, our children, our in-laws, our friends, you name it.
In professional life and in the workplace, there are also multiple stressors that come mainly from:
- Speaking in public, presenting in front of a group
- Feeling unable to communicate clearly
- Discomfort when faced with resistance
- Difficult colleagues.
In such a context, open-mindedness and mental/emotional agility are essential qualities in maintaining a healthy atmosphere within one’s team or organization. Indeed, it has been proven that people with high emotional intelligence are able to solve a variety of problems in difficult situations or when faced with a difficult person, by controlling themselves on three distinct skills: the ability to recognize, evaluate and control emotions in themselves and in others.
It is important to understand that everyone reacts differently to stress. Our reactions are governed by three factors: our personality, our interpretation of past experiences and our perception and interpretation of current circumstances.
In a state of excessive stress and/or one that is prolonged over time, our emotions take over our thoughts and dictate our behavior. Our emotional state having thus taken control, even our perceptions and our interpretation of events are strongly influenced. Thus, you will not perceive a situation in the same way, depending on whether you are angry and anxious, or happy and in a good mood.
We must therefore learn to “observe” our thoughts, because the quality of our personal and professional life depends essentially on our ability to identify and interpret the nature of emotions and their impact on our communication, decision-making, and performance
There are four attributes for efficient stress resistance:
- Active engagement to develop mental and emotional agility
- Ability to meet challenges by reprogramming your internal GPS
- Demonstrating curiosity and asking the right questions
The topics we avoid are certainly those that create emotional stress. We reject them because they bore us or make us uncomfortable. Just the thought of talking about them makes us feel awkward or distressed.
>> Find a way to say “no” without feeling guilty, express your desires without remorse, and communicate differently and assertively.
2) It’s stressful to feel like you’re running out of time. And in North America, we suffer from a chronic lack of time. But how do you spend your time?
>> Manage your priorities and identify what wastes your time. Make sure your wheel of life is balanced and proportionate.
3) Pay attention to your inner voice. For most people, it’s something like: maybe I’m not trying hard enough? Maybe I’m totally out of luck? Will this training help me? Probably not, but it would be nice if…
>> Manage your inner voice.
4) Remember that the actions you take reflect your values. Be careful not to be in a constant state of emergency.
>> Develop new habits, practice self-talk, be patient and forgiving with yourself (it takes 21 to 66 days to develop a new habit), make promises and keep them, delegate if possible.
NEED HELP ?
Above all, hang in there and treat yourself from time to time. And if you need help to learn how to practice your daily mental hygiene, to better manage your stress and your emotions, or to optimize your performance and unleash your full potential, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Until then, please refer to the following resources:
Stress and performance management – Course
How to Practice Mental Hygiene?
Mental Hygiene and Emotional Intelligence