April is Stress Awareness Month and, whether it’s in our personal or professional lives, stress can have a significant on our attitude, decisions and performance so it’s important to find coping strategies.
In business, the worry of not reaching a goal can often become the reason we fail to achieve it. Rather than focusing on what needs to be done to get to the ultimate end-goal, we focus on the stress of what will happen if we don’t and we don’t get anywhere at all.
A little bit of stress is healthy – it spurs us on to take action and meet deadlines. But the kind that leads to ‘performance paralysis’ doesn’t do us – or our colleagues, clients or business – any favours, and is one very good reason to manage stress levels.
Here are some ideas for how to break the stress cycle, and remain cool under pressure.
Focus on the positive
It’s easy to get caught up with what is going wrong, so change your perspective. Take a moment to remind yourself of things that are on track. What is going right for you? Write a list each week of what you have achieved and what you are looking forward to.
Get it done
Speaking of lists, don’t underestimate the power of a to-do list. Not only will you get more clarity around what you need to achieve, you also have the opportunity to reflect on what you have accomplished. And that feeling of ticking off each item is undeniably satisfying!
By the same token, procrastination is not your friend in this situation. While it might seem like a good plan to avoid things that are causing you concern, you’re really just prolonging the inevitable and drawing out the stress.
Clear space, clear mind
Your surroundings play a bigger part in influencing your mind-set than you might think.
If you’re trying to work in an area that’s overflowing with mess, you’re likely to find getting work completed that much harder.
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and make a point of de-cluttering your workspace and your thoughts should follow suit.
Say ‘no’ sometimes
As good as it is to offer someone help or to be available when called on for extra work, it’s also one of the best ways to build up stress.
Be aware of your time limits, and if an extra job is going to create undue pressure, don’t be afraid to say no. The momentary stress of that will be nothing compared to trying to get more done than is possible.
‘Keep on keeping on’ can be a good philosophy, but without a doubt you need to throw in some breaks too.
Ensuring that you’re eating and exercising well, as well as getting some solid ZZZs, is crucial for dealing with stress. Without a healthy mind and body, you’re simply not operating at 100 per cent, and it’s not going to help your productivity or your mood.