Everyone is faced with demands to achieve tasks or goals in their personal and work life. At one level these demands create a ‘pressure’ to get things done that is positive and motivational. When the demands placed upon someone exceed their ability to cope, that healthy ‘pressure’ turns to unhealthy stress. The amount and type of pressure that someone can cope with (and even enjoy) varies greatly from individual to individual, as does their reactions when the pressure becomes overwhelming. Symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, eczema, ulcers, palpitations etc. There are a number of guidelines that can help us to understand how to deal with stress, they include:
- Keep a sense of proportion
Stress often occurs when people put unrealistic demands on themselves as to what they should or ought to be able to accomplish. This creates a psychological tension between desired outcomes and what is feasible in reality. This can be dealt with by using thinking strategies such as ‘counter thinking’ and ‘thought stopping’.
- Take regular exercise
Physical activity helps to dissipate the harmful bio-chemicals that build up in the body when someone feels stressed and replaces them with those that lead to positive self-esteem and increased energy.
- Practise relaxation techniques
It is possible to soothe the nervous system, thereby ‘switching off’ the effects of stress, by taking ten minutes or so each day to deliberately become calm and centred e.g. by using Autogenics, Qigong or Meditation methods.
- Be assertive
Avoid getting overloaded by taking charge of what goals and tasks you agree to do. The key is being honest with people about what you think, want and feel but in a way that takes their needs into account.
Assess the current situation
Reflect on your current approach to stress management. Think about the four statements above. What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses to be? Think about what evidence you have to support this view. Think about asking for feedback from those you work with and your family or friends. Decide what changes you want to make and set yourself a goal(s).
Davis, M - The relaxation and stress reduction work book,
New Harbinger Publications (2000)
Covers a wide range of stress management techniques and self-assessment tools.
Hanson, P - The joy of stress
Practical tips and advice on handling pressure.
Identify from these books what you want to put into practice.
Discuss your thoughts with your line manager/mentor.
Identify other books that may be helpful to you.
Watch people who are good at dealing with stress
Identify individuals in the organisation, who you (and/or your line manager/mentor) consider role models in this area. Observe what they do. How does what they do compare to what less effective people do? How does what you see relate to your approach?
Karlsson, F & Shephard, D Stressed to Kill
The performance partnership (2001)
CD covering three NLP based techniques for controlling stress.
Then - Most importantly
Go through the steps shown in the How to Use Our Tutorials page to really cement and develop what you've learned into a useful part of your business skill set.
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