Okay, the headline is manipulative. It is certainly intended to induce you to read this post. The subject isn’t marketing. It will not benefit me if you read this. It will benefit you if you follow the advice.
So what is this monster?
We are seeing the word pop up everywhere these days. Stress causes health issues. Stress leads to depression. Stress can put a person on a path of alcohol of drug dependency.
Stress hurts productivity. Stress ignites tempers. Stress feeds employee turnover.
What can be done about stress?
I know it’s not enough to take a deep breath or to go for a walk. Sometimes the source of stress is ever present and caused by irrational external forces. Specifically, how can you reduce your stress when your boss is clearly a nutcase and you are critically dependent on your job? There is stress and it probably isn’t going away. You cannot change the irrational boss. Here’s what you can do.
To get stress down to a level that won’t cause you physical harm, I recommend following these 5 steps. They work.
1. Stop and Think
We do not take time to think. Too often we work in crazy, break-neck cycles to meet the demands of an irrational supervisor. The supervisor who wants that report on her desk by 8:00 a.m., the supervisor who doesn’t think twice about giving you this assignment at 5:00 p.m. the day before, the supervisor who says, “I don’t care where you get the data” when you ask about to use to develop this ‘urgent’ report; that is the supervisor who will do you physical harm. Stop and think. Don’t just dive in and start swimming. Stop and think. Collect your thoughts. Make a plan.
Because the stress is always going to be there, feed your brain. Learn things. Learning will make you more efficient. The task that takes 5 hours could be done in 2 with new knowledge. Covey calls this “sharpening your saw”. If you never take time to learn, your brain gets tired and your mental saw gets dull. Learning will always benefit you.
3. Make a Change Plan
Are you doing a life sentence with this job or do you have an escape plan? Use number 2 above to facilitate your escape. Having a plan to get out from under a stressful situation will reduce your stress immediately. You can always remind yourself that there is a way out. Spend time on your plan. There are people who survived horrific imprisonments by working on escape plans. There are no easy, quick answers (usually). Don’t neglect to start your escape plan simply because there is nothing you can do today.
Yes, taking a walk is part of our plan. If I started with that, you would have stopped reading. Get outside, move around. Clean out the car or the garage. You’ll get exercise and a sense of accomplishment. Don’t sit at your desk for hours staring at Facebook knowing you have to produce a report by morning. Get up, do something productive, then get back to work.
5. Have Courage
This is the hardest and the most important. Stand up to bullies. Don’t be afraid to ask for an additional day to work on that report. Don’t be afraid to say, “no, I can’t work on that tonight, I have plans. I can work on it tomorrow.” Don’t be afraid to do the above 4 items. Fear holds more people in bad situations than any other factor. Be professional, remain courteous and have courage.
I hate to see stress consuming good people.
Will you please consider these steps to reduce your stress?
Chris Reich, TeachU