Can you stress better? Work on it all you like—you won’t eliminate stress from work or life and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Research shows that some stress can be useful. So, if you and your team have to stress, you might as well make the most of it. For Stress Awareness Month, we challenge you to CEEK a Better WayÒ and stress better.
What is stress?
Stress is your body’s way of reacting to potential danger. That rustle in the bushes? It could be a snake. Better dump a bunch of hormones into the blood stream to prepare for action. The trick of it is—we’re not great at separating the physical stress of rustling bushes from the mental stress of everyday life. That sudden ringing phone while you are deep in flow could be a snake, or it could just be a teammate checking in. Either way, your body is ready to flee, freeze, or fight. As a one off, this is fine. A little stress can even help you focus to get things done. Prolonged exposure, however, can negatively affect cognition, physical and mental health, and behavior.
What to do about it?
- Practice pre-crisis integrity. Put healthy practices in place now. Rough weeks, all-nighters, and sudden emergencies happen. Be ready for them in whatever way makes sense for you and your team.
- Prioritize and load balance. Make sure you are transparent with your team about priorities and have realistic expectations. Know what their load is, how you can shuffle work when you need to, and communicate often. Pre-crisis integrity points go to the team that cross trains ahead of time.
- Communicate to understand. No one wants to be treated like a machine. Check in with your team. Get to know who they are as people and understand them. When your team opens up about a stressor, discuss how you can help and follow through.
- Embrace failure. The thought of failing stresses people out before they’ve even started to fail. Embrace failure as a key to success.
- Be aware of how you show up. Are you sending emails overnight after you told your team they don’t have to? If so, your words don’t match your actions. Your team will do as you do. Stop emailing overnight, get some rest, eat lunch away from your desk, and make sure your team knows you expect them to do the same—with your words and your actions.
- Recognize and address stress in the moment. Can you recognize the physical signs of stress in your body? A tightness in your neck, pinch between your eyes, uptick in heartbeat or respiration, or something else uniquely you? Pause, breath, and regulate the autonomic nervous system to address the fight or flight response and restore cognitive, thoughtful responses.
Practice pre-crisis integrity, prioritize, communicate, embrace failure, set the example, and stress better with April’s Organizational Wellness Challenge. CEEK a Better WayÒ!