Eeeek! Did you notice that during and immediately after having time off, your stress levels were settled? You began to feel more like a human being again?
But the settling was so temporary! Those familiar stressors began kicking back in once you got back into the mainstream, didn’t they?
I know when I returned to work after a couple of weeks off, I was relaxed, refreshed and had a renewed clarity about everything. And then…
As the days passed I became increasingly stressed. I felt less able to stay on top of what was hitting my desk. That feeling of overwhelm began to creep back in. My promise to stay away from evening work went down the plughole.
Most of us would like it if our regular state were less stressed. We want to maintain a chilled state, regardless of the stress-inducers that confront us as the weeks and months go by. Read on…
What Happens If You Have Too Much Stress?
Of course you need some stress. It gets you out of bed each morning. But if your blood’s pumping too quickly for too long you’re likely to create unacceptable consequences?
Excessive stress has a serious impact on your health and your relationships as well as on your leadership practices, behaviours and results.
I don’t know of any top-notch leader who’s chronically stressed. In fact a key to their exemplary performance is that (apart from the odd occasion) they’re in-the-zone, enjoying their work.
When your stress levels are excessive it’ll impact your leadership effectiveness…
|Typical Symptoms…||Will Impact Your…|
|Moodiness, edgy demeanour, short-temperedness, tension.||Relationships|
|Overwhelm, trouble focussing, memory problems, burned out.||Decision making|
|De-motivation, lowered productivity, generalised unhappiness.||Energy level|
|Tiredness, headaches, decreased/increased appetite.||General wellbeing|
|Sleep problems, elevated blood pressure, low immunity.||Health and fitness level|
Being alert to these typical symptoms of chronic stress is a crucial first step. Taking steps to reduce your excessive stress is the next…
Your Stress Management Checklist
Let’s be realistic: Chronic stress simply isn’t something you can afford to live with! It’ll definitely prevent you from being a great leader—and possibly prevent you from living a long, healthy life too.
I want you to stop, take a really hard look at what’s going on for you, get clear on what’s whipping up most of your stress—then deal with those stress triggers head on by taking action! For example:
|Your Issue…||Pivotal Actions…|
|Too much work||Know your boundaries. Get really clear on what would constitute good work/life balance for you. And take action to create more balance. (See my Leadership Bulletin “Not Everyone Suffers With Work/Life Balance”.)|
|Is a specific situation stress inducing?||Remember, things don’t have meanings in themselves, we give things meaning. Take a look at the meaning you’ve currently put on the stressful situation—then find a meaning that’s more useful for you. (See my Leadership Bulletin “As The Leader, You’re The Primary Model For Your Team Members”.)|
|Feeling anxious about your circumstance?||Uneasiness occurs when you’re focussing on what you don’t want to happen happening. Focus on what you want to happen, your ideal outcome, and watch your tension dissipate. (See my Leadership Bulletin “Anx.iety and High Performance Don’t Mix!”)|
|Unresolved conflict in an important relationship?||“First, take an “I’m OK, you’re OK” stance.“And then courageously deal with the conflict.(See my Leadership Bulletin “Why “I’m OK, You’re OK” Is An Intrinsic Part Of Effective Leadership”.)|
|Feeling harassed or intimidated by aggressive behaviour?||Know that aggression is always triggered by fear. (When a tiger is attacking, provided its not hungry, it’s fearful isn’t it?) The person behaving aggressively therefore needs your support. What could you do to better support them?|
|You’re experiencing stress-related health consequences?||Do whatever you need to do to take adequate time out several times each week. Do sweat-inducing cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times every week. And effectively fuel your body—A high protein, low fat eating plan works well for many.|
Your Leadership Call to Action
If you want to be a more tuned-in, responsive, overtly intelligent, resourceful leader, managing your stress is an imperative. Really, truly, it’s not an option to ignore it.
You can’t operate at your best when you’re over-stretched and pushing yourself to the limit!
- Which of the above checklist items will you begin to habituate?
- Maybe there’s something that’s not on the checklist that’ll work for you?
- For those of you who’re after a solution in a nutshell—I’ve heard it said that ideally you’d reduce your stress by “talking it out”—and if that’s not plausible for you, “run it out”. Can you talk-it-out? Or do you need to run-it-out?
Support Is Available
Stress management frequently gets put on the table with the leaders I work with. These leaders, firstly, understand the cost the chronic stress has on their success, and, secondly, know that habituating new thinking, behaviours and routines usually needs external support.
Send me an email if you, or a leader in your team, want support with this and other pivotal leadership practices. We can then arrange to have a chat about how you want your 2012 and beyond to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.