My beloved son asked me a great question the other day. "Dad, what do you do to manage stress at work?”
"Why?" I asked him. “Are you having a problem?”
“Yes," he responded. “My boss is driving me crazy, and my largest client changes his mind on a regular basis. And, by the way, I am suffering from pain in my left shoulder blade and have had sleepless nights.”
Every business person has stress in his life. Some manage it well, others don’t. Causes of the malady vary. Perhaps a deadline is a source of anxiety. Or it might be the actions of a supervisor. It can originate from any number of events, people or issues that occur in the office or plant.
Stress symptoms can include social, mental, emotional and physical manifestations that might result in anger, frustration, headaches, pain, depression, insomnia, loss or increase of appetite, loss of desire and focus and withdrawal from associates, family and friends.
What can be done to lessen or eliminate stress in the workplace?
Well, my son and fellow workers, here are a few things I have learned from experts and from personal experiences to successfully manage the stressful moments in my life. I hope they will be instructive and valuable to you also.
1. Know You Are in Charge. Managing stress begins with us. We need to recognize we are in charge of our responses to a given stressful situation. We can manage our emotions and our thoughts, and in some cases, we might even have the power to control our environment, our time, our relationships and the issue at hand. Remember, we are not in bondage to anyone or anything.
2. Understand the Situation. As part of the examination process, we should think and evaluate the true source or cause of our stress. We should consider stepping away from the situation for a period of time to reflect and ponder. It’s a good idea to take a walk, clear our head, exercise, find a place of peace to compose ourselves and gain strength. We might ask, What’s the problem? What’s going on here? What’s really happening to make us feel anxious or fearful? Is the situation our fault? Is it someone else’s? Is the situation within our control? The task is to gain a deep understanding of the issue; to look beyond the surface.
3. Consult with Others. In difficult times, it’s always a good idea to talk to a trusted advisor, someone who can listen and respond without bias. Such a person, who is not encumbered with emotion, can be objective and ask questions often yielding intelligent options for consideration
4. Develop a Plan of Action. As we understand the problem, we should ask ourselves, Is there something we can thoughtfully and intelligently do to lessen or eliminate the impact of the moment? What should we do to find relief and peace on the matter? Furthermore, Can we do it to the satisfaction of all parties?
5. Consider the Big Picture. I believe it is helpful to consider the matter in light of what is most important in our lives. How does it rank? Are there things that are more valuable? If necessary, could we walk away from the situation and be better off? Or should we stay to win the battle knowing it’s of great importance?
I use a technique of perspective on occasions. I look at a challenging but trivial problem and mentally visualize myself physically rising above it. In my mind’s eye, I continue to climb high into the heavens, where I see the vastness and grandeur of the universe. As I look back on my earthly problem and put it into perspective, I realize it is small, meaningless and inconsequential.
6. Respond. With a clear understanding of the issues causing stress, having consulted with others and having put the problem in perspective, it’s time to act on a well-conceived plan with humility and conviction.
7. Evaluate. Once we’ve intelligently responded and after a period of time, we will naturally evaluate what happened and note if the stress we endured continues, has slackened or is gone.
Of course, there is stress in business. It is plentiful and constant. Our task is to learn to effectively manage it when it appears. Please share with me how you deal with stress. I look forward to hearing from you.