For every training program I conduct, no matter the topic, I always spend a portion talking about the stress that comes with the subject. While it’s difficult to adequately determine if there is quantifiably more stress in the world now than 5 years ago, I am hearing more people talk about how besieged they are with the stress, tension, friction and worry in their lives. It seems to be relentless. The pressure is not only in the workplace - it’s also at home. It’s not just the masses - it is the C-Suite as well. I hear it from every industry that I work with and from people of every culture and age group.
I’ve conducted stress management programs for many years, and have determined that if people truly want to learn how to manage their stress or organize their work more effectively, there are hundreds of books and articles available to read. I work to keep up with the latest research, APPs, and the most recent trends so that I can provide people with ideas and tips to more effectively manage their lives. I learn from program participants about tools and strategies they use, which ones work for them, andadd those to my list of resources.
However, I find that stress management is really about attitude. If you are not motivated to change your habits, then it doesn’t matter how many tools you learn. If your habits don’t change, then nothing else will change. If a large portion of your stress comes with the company culture, is innateto your industry, is a result of your inability to prioritize, or the result of your inability to say ‘no’ judiciously – then you will have to decide if you are going to run and hide from it (creating another and unique kind of stress) or develop some back bone and discipline.
These four steps are so critical to managing stress that I now repeat them throughout programs, like a mantra, until people understand that it’s NOT a mistake. It’s my effort to drive home the point and have them be able to see, say, and hear it enough times to know it by heart.
Pause :When you are experiencing stress, the first thing you should do is stop what you are doing and take a moment. Become aware that you are running, talking too fast, making mistakes, speeding, feeling tense, clenching your jaw, or holding your breath.
Assess: Evaluate what is going on with you and why. Consider if this is the best thing for you to be doing right now – and what would be better and preferred.
Choose: Choose the one thing that makes sense to do. It might be walking away or biting your tongue. It could be choosing one task over five others to complete. Decide the best way to take control over that moment.
Commit: Commit, and then do it. It will mean doing something differently than you are currently doing. Take control of your day, your action, your words, and your behavior. It’s the one area where you DO have total control so step up firmly and use it.
Work life, home life, community life – none of it will stop or slow down because you’d like it to. Life never seems to ever work like that.
- Create some limits that help you focus.
- Learn how to communicate to people so they understand your goals and parameters.
- Ask for support in ways that allow people to assist you, while you respect their parameters and limits.
One person’s stress is another person’s delight, but everyone can lose control of their day at times. The goal with managing stress, work, and the quality of your life is to figure out if you can reduce the pressureand how to increase your ability to manage the pressureyou do have. Everyone can -- but not everyone does. Using the tools above, you can learn to manage the stress in your daily life, professionally and personally. Step up to the challenge of creating a healthier, happier, and more harmonious life.
Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 20 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at http://jonidaniels.com.