How to identify stress before breaking pointIdentifying stress that’s bubbling under the surface can be challenging – how many times have you only become aware you were tensing your shoulders after being told to relax them? As a result, we tend to only deal with stress, and related mental health challenges such as anxiety, once we have reached breaking point and have no choice but to act. Unsurprisingly this is less effective and more challenging than if we’d prevented the break occurring. Take knocking a sugar jar off a kitchen surface as an example. It’ll take far longer to clear up the sugar and piece the broken shards of glass back together than it would to move the jar away from the edge before it falls. It’s just the same with stress. Taking stock of the stress you’re carrying so you can prevent it developing, and encouraging your employees to do the same, is far better than trying to calm down when you are experience a strong stress reaction, such as a panic attack. Activities, such as yoga, that are designed to increase awareness of your own body are a great way that this can be achieved – they empower you to identify stress, acknowledge it and then let it go.
Developing personalised coping mechanismsEveryone experiences stress differently. As such, it’s unsurprising that the coping mechanisms that work for one person may not work for another. While yoga is effective for many people, business leaders should encourage their staff to explore and master different mechanisms, so that they have them to hand when faced with a stressful situation. These mechanisms may take the form of breathing practices, exercises to identify the root cause of anxiety, reminders of your achievements, or something completely different. The only way you’ll work out what’s suitable for you is giving different methods a go.
The importance of realistic expectations“You’re your own worst enemy” isn’t an expression for nothing. When it comes to expectations it’s typically those we set for ourselves, rather than those made by managers, that cause the most stress, as a desire to succeed leads us to set unattainable goals. It’s crucial to cultivate an environment where you and your staff set realistic expectations for yourself and for others to avoid demoralisation, stress and a resultant decline in performance. Setting time aside to recognise your achievements and those of others goes hand in hand with this.
Knowing when to seek professional helpIdentifying when you’re experiencing stress, developing coping mechanisms and setting realistic expectations will all go a long way in helping you to minimise the impacts of stressful situations. However, when stress develops into a long-term mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression, it’s crucial that you seek professional help. The key to identifying these is noting the extent to which your condition is debilitating. Monitor the impacts of stress on your physical health, relationships, ability to work and go about your life as normal. If these are affected it’s time to consult a physician. Knowing when you need to seek professional help and taking measures to minimise stress for yourself and your employees will create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. People are the key to your businesses’ success so it’s vital you invest in theirs and your own wellbeing now. Jordan Daykin is MD at GripIt and CEO of VPS Group Ltd
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