We All Have Stress; How You Manage It Makes All The Difference.
By Steve Schumacher
In my more than 25 years of working with people in all kinds of organizations, I have discovered that every single one of us has stress in our lives. We are stressed at home and at work. Certain amounts of stress are good, as they bring out the best in us and make us perform better. When stress gets out of control and we are not able to manage it effectively, it takes a toll on our performance and our relationships.
The other thing I have realized over time is that stress has no boundaries. If you are stressed at work, it can show itself at home and vice versa. There was a time when people spoke about “leaving your problems at work.” I do not think that is possible. If you are not managing your stress well, it will have effects on all aspects of your life.
There are a number of things to consider when managing your stress, but the first is to accept the fact that you are going to have stress, and it is up to you to learn how to manage it. No one else is going to do it for you. Others will benefit from you managing your stress well, but you have to take control of it yourself.
Physical. One of the best ways to handle stress is to make sure you are in the best physical shape you can be. This does not mean you have to be an Olympic athlete. It means that you get plenty of exercise, eat right and get a good amount of sleep.
The better shape you are in, the better you will be able to handle the challenges we all face every day. Everyone is busy and wants to relax whenever possible, but building regular exercise into your lifestyle will provide you many benefits beyond managing stress.
Mental. Having a good attitude about life, work and other aspects of your life is essential to keeping your stress manageable. Can you wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and smile? If not, you might check your approach to life and how you think about what you are doing and where you are going. Everyone has problems. The difference is people and how they manage those problems is whether or not they see those problems as temporary or an indicator of how their life is in total.
Being a doom-and-gloom type of person can compound your stress. Having an upbeat approach to life and its challenges can help you manage stress. When a problem arises, think of the worst case scenario associated with that problem and ask yourself if you can manage that worst case scenario. You will probably decide that you can, and the chances of that worst case scenario happening are not very great.
Work issues. Stress shows up a great deal at work because of many factors. Some include: lack of control, unexpected occurrences, bad bosses, complaining employees, and having to deal with people you do not like.
When one chooses to work in a company, they must understand that compromise is often the name of the game. You will not get to have everything your way. You must learn to deal with that reality. The key is being true to yourself and your ethics. Learn to accept the fact that when you work for another person, sometimes you will just have to go along with what they are asking you to do. Again, learn to manage the situation instead of carping about it. Do what is asked and move on. Dwelling on issues will only increase your own stress level. I have what I call a three-strike rule. I will give something an honest effort three times. If it still doesn’t change, I accept it and move on.
Career issues. Are you accomplishing your life goals? Are you passionate about the work you do? When you look back on your career, will you smile? If you answered yes to those questions, you are probably managing the career stressors pretty well. Remember, everything we do is a choice. If you feel you are in a dead-end job, there is stress associated with that.
If you feel like you are just getting by, and not progressing in your career, there is stress with that. Take charge of your life and your career and seek positions that will fulfill you as an employee and a person. You will feel better and others around you will feel better also.
In summary, stress is a normal part of life. What differentiates people is how they deal with stress. A person with a lot of stress can actually feel better than the person will a little stress, because they have learned to manage their stress. Manage your stress, or let it manage you, the choice is yours.
Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at [email protected]