Stress is Bankrupting Us!
Stress in the workplace costs businesses $300 billion a year, according to a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA). Be it loss of productivity, absenteeism, turnover or increased medical costs, stress is clearly expensive to organizations.
What’s more, stress is costly to individuals. This same study by the APA shows that 80% of Americans currently cite money and the state of the economy as their top two sources of stress.
If stress is bankrupting you, read on. This entire newsletter is dedicated to helping individuals more effectively manage stress in the workplace.
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Take Action-Do Something or Do Nothing
Stress Sucks !
It literally sucks the energy, motivation and spirit from us. The personal effect of all this stress is increase in physical symptoms that include: headache, backache, tight neck and shoulders, high blood pressure and ulcers, and emotional symptoms like sadness, anxiety, depression, anger and irritability.
Are you a stress breeder?
Stress is contagious and can impact everyone around us. Stress can impede the ability to focus on the job and cause us to take longer to finish projects or meet deadlines. Stress creates tension in relationships and interferes with communication and mutual support.
One Persons’s Stress is Another Person’s Relaxation
People react to events, other people and situations in different ways. What may be stressful to one person may not bother another and what makes one person feel relaxed and in control may not work for someone else. Just telling someone to relax and insisting they enjoy what you do can be more stressful.
Stress on Steroids
If you are a leader or executive in your organization you not only have your own stress, but you also have to make decisions that impact your employees. That can keep you up and night and obsess in the day time.
Don’t Just Stress Out, Do Something and Sometimes Do Nothing!
Here are some ways to reduce your stress level and not be a stressor to other people.
Realize that you are not alone in feeling extra stressed these days.
Become aware of the times you feel stressed out and identify your emotional and physical reactions. Are there specific instances when your back starts to tense up or your head starts aching. Look for general patterns.
In your interactions with employees and others, are you raising your voice, getting impatient and being overly critical? Observe how your employees react to you. Do they avoid you or stay silent when you ask for input? Ask people you trust for any feedback regarding your behavior. Don’t get defensive. Just listen.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but learn and practice deep breathing exercises. This will help you stay calm and focused and make the right decisions. You’ll also prevent or interrupt your stress reactions, like neck aches and teeth clenching. The ability to use deep breathing techniques will make you a better listener, and be seen as a leader.
Think of the value you bring to your business and the value the business brings to your customers. In a stressful economy many business leaders tend to forget about the value of their services, start thinking of what they offer as a commodity rather than a brand and spend too much energy worrying about their competition. Concentrating on your brand and what you have to offer will make you feel better about your business and think of new ways to present your value.
When you get anxious about the future instead of planning for the future, bring your thoughts back to the present and what you know right now. This will give you more of a sense of control and make it easier to think strategically and reduce the stress of the unknown.
Find an activity that you love doing or that you loved doing before you felt so stressed and take time to do more of it.
Eliminate stressful people (energy vampires) from your life. They waste a lot of your time when you’re with them and thinking about how stressed out you are after they leave.
Use caller ID and don’t answer when they call. If you have to talk with them use a timer and let them know you have an appointment in three minutes. Extricate yourself when the time is up.
Take time to exercise. Think of exercise as a stress cleanser. You’ll feel less plugged in to everyone else’s stress as well as your own. The more relaxed and calm you are, the better you’ll feel, and sleep. Not only will you enjoy spending time with them but they will enjoy spending time with you.
Don’t Get Stressed Out By Positive Thinkers
Aren’t you sick of “smiley face people,” talking about how great this economy is, telling you that if you are stressed you are just being a “downer.” I call them “smiley face people” because no matter what you say, they really aren’t listening, they’re just mouthing platitudes with a perpetual blank beatific smile on their face.
Our economy is in trouble; people are losing their jobs and houses. They’re anxious about the future, don’t know if they’ll have a job next week, and worry about their family and friends.
Millions of people are in a state of stress and that stress is contagious. If any of those people are your employees, colleagues or family members, you’ve seen the impact their stress and yours can have on productivity, performance and relationships.
The “smiley face” people refuse to acknowledge that there are real external factors that are contributing to people’s pain, their lack of motivation, intense headaches, backaches, ulcers and higher blood pressure. These “smiley faces” are actually spreading the stress because other people are too embarrassed to talk about their concerns and think that there I something wrong with them.
The good news for you is that you can manage your stress, improve your performance and be more productive. As an executive you can also create a lower stress environment for your employees and colleagues.
The “smiley people,” are partially right. There are opportunities out there. There are individuals and organizations that continue to flourish and you and your employees can too, but it can only happen if you are vigorously honest about your present state and develop an individual and organizational strategy for success. You and your company can prosper if you take some action, are willing to change your mindset, and be creative.
Here are nine steps you can take to reduce your stress in these stressful times and create a lower stress environment for your employees. You can prosper and help other people be successful.
Acknowledge your own stress. If you are worried about your business tell someone who can be supportive. Do not share your concerns with “perpetual negative vibers or energy vampires.” These people will tell you there is nothing you can do and suggest you move to a shelter with your shopping cart and sleeping bag. Do not share your concerns with a “smiley face.” They will just pat you on the head and tell you to go dancing.
Acknowledge the stress of your employees, colleagues and family without trying to give unasked for advice. Be empathetic. Just talking to another person who understands is an immediate stress reliever.
Think about the fact that there are external factors you can’t control, but you can control your thoughts and how much time you spend obsessing about these factors.
Keeping your thoughts stuck in your head makes it difficult to seek solutions. When you are baffled by a specific problem, or anxious, grab a pad. Write the issue in the middle of the pad. List your fears, what is known about the issue, what is unknown. and your resources, options and people you can ask for help if necessary. You’ll let go of the fears of what might happen and see the possibilities for resolution.
No matter how busy you are or pressured to produce you feel, take some time for yourself to go for a walk, take some deep breaths, meditate, engage in a spiritual practice. Taking this step in the morning and even during the day will help you interact in a calm manner with your employees and colleagues. This will also reduce the pressure you feel and enable you to be more focused with will enable the people around you to calm down.
Stop pressuring your employees, giving them ultimatums or threatening them. In fact, give them a rejuvenation break. They will return reenergized. ready to take care of details and less distracted.
Keep abreast of what’s happening with your employees; was a spouse laid off, do they always look exhausted, troubled or extremely emotional. Don’t enable any employee because that will create more stress for you and the other people that work with that person. Be supportive and encourage them to use your EAP program if you have one.
Remember you need to take care of yourself so that you can do your best work and support your employees to do their best work.
Next time you’re stressed and some “smiley face person,’ tries to trivialize your feelings and experience, take a deep breath and ignore them. You’ll know that you are taking action to reduce your stress, enjoy your life and work to the fullest no matter what is happening around your, rather than plying people with platitudes.
New Offerings: Stress Management Coaching for Executives During Stressful Times
Contact Simma for help improving performance, increasing productivity and raising profit during stressful times. Find out what’s unique about our Executive Stress Management Programs and how we can help you with your own personalized or small group-coaching program.
Simma LiebermanAbout Simma…
Simma helps organizations create more profitable cultures and improve individual and organizational performance. She is a consultant, speaker, and trainer. Simma is the co-author of Putting Diversity to Work (Crisp Publications, 2003), a guide for managers on leading a diverse workforce.
Simma is often called “The Inclusionist” because of her ability to improve communication amongst people who are different. She is quoted in various national magazines and news sources, including The Economist, Redbook, NY Times, Investor’s Business Daily, First For Women, Human Resources Executive, Black MBA, MSNBC and Fox News. Her clients include McDonalds, Pillsbury, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, AT&T, Monster.com, Diageo, Stanford Court Hotel, and the Women’s Food Service Forum.
Contact Simma to help your employees work better together and ensure your organization’s success…
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