Working through Stress
The mental health charity, MIND, undertook a survey about stress at work and found that over 30% claimed that work was the biggest cause of stress in their lives, driving some to drink – which is not surprising because the way most colleagues and firms, fresh from the combative nature of “work”, wind down is to adjourn to the pub for a drink.
The nature of the combat, besides the competition, demanding customs and squeezed profits is often about meeting tighter and tighter deadlines, wider and wider responsibilities, burgeoning workloads and of course life in general, when the balance actually allows life to interfere. The lowest point probable comes when you feel stressed about how stressed you feel!
Most employees do not feel they can talk to anybody, let alone their employers and often find that the stress results in self-medication i.e. alcohol, cigarettes and ‘recreational drugs’ or take an increasing number of “sickies”. Others seek out the blessings of the doctor and become part of the increasing population of sleeping tablets and antidepressant takers.
The costs to the employer and employee are clear and well documented. These include higher absenteeism, less focus, more conflict and demotivation and resignation, to name a few.
Maybe you could learn to do things differently? Possibly, if you seek support and step back and observe that stress is the anticipation or expectation that we will suffer a loss of control, perhaps through difficulty or adversity. This stimulates a normal physical human response, through the nervous system, which has become known as the ‘fight or flight’ response which floods the body with stress related chemicals. These chemicals are designed to inspire action in the human to regain control. If we can’t respond, the stress gets bigger.
Not deal with properly, this stress begins to undermine our body defence system and we become exhausted, demotivated and depressed. Everything, then, begins to feel even more difficult and out of control. Our long term health can suffer and it becomes a vicious cycle.
However, used properly the ‘fight or flight’ response can help us we become more focused and action orientated. When we experience being using our natural resources successful, we begin to learn we can overcome adversity. This leads to greater confidence, further successes and a virtuous cycle that turns our stress into success.
Developing this sense of mental toughness (or emotional resilience) involves taking back control and using your natural resources.
The first of which is to stimulate the nervous system in the opposite way to the ‘fight and flight’. This is called ‘rest and digest’. It involves simple learning how to get calm.
Then, secondly we learn to take that step back and assess the situation, allowing our thinking brain to lead our action packed emotional response system and overcome our challenge.
Working through stress is no more than thinking differently about it.