NOTE: This site is not prepared by a physician or psychologist. If you are having serious physical or emotional symptoms, please see your doctor.
Stress is a normal part of life. Most of the time, we can manage the stress we experience simply by moving forward in our work and lives. Other times, we have a spike in the intensity of stress or a longer period of stress in our work and life–like NOW!
Stress can be defined as “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” The perceived threat to “failure” is often sourced externally, but it can also be something we generate by our own thinking or actions. However created, we are the central figure in producing the anxiety we feel–and the one who takes action to reduce or alleviate that pressure.
Stress shows up in our physical, mental and emotional well-being. While we may not have control of the external demands, we do have control of how we manage the stress in these three areas. Ten suggestions with links to further ideas and information are organized in these three categories below. The first suggestion is so important, we have stated it right up front:
Get clear on what your REALITY is! Print your calendar for the next two or three weeks and triage for priority, eliminate or annotate double bookings, and add work/thinking time and time for your family (even if it’s 30 minutes each day). Communicate your reality to the people who matter most–especially those you consider family. If your calendar is full to overflowing, at least you know where it ebbs and flows.
Take better care of your body with your best personal practice in eating healthy food, exercise (even if only stretching and walking), drinking more water and less alcohol and caffeine.
Take 3 deep breaths any time you feel tense or tired (or in transition times). Really fill your lungs and breath slowly. Notice any relaxation.
Slow down when you walk. Give yourself time to get to the next meetin, and, when you can’t, at least walk.
Do one thing at a time. Your brain cannot truly multi-task, and the decisions being made and problems being solved deserve your attention. A recent New York Times article makes the case quite well, even though the example is a bit extreme.
Put your present pressure on a longer timeline. Draw a line on a piece of paper and put your worklife on the top and your personal life on the bottom and extend the line into the future at least six months.
Use a sounding board to “dump” your data and develop ideas. Talk to the people who can help the most. Complaining is only useful if it leads to solutions.
Get clear on what your REALITY is! Draw a picture, use your calendar as suggested above, or pull out the project plan. Then layer in the missing information and triage for priority. Take your thinking to a person who can help with resources or ideas or simply has a need to know.
Be intentional. Before meetings and critical conversations, stop to plan how you intend to “be” inside (think and feel) and the outcomes you want (have and do). Take a look at a 20-minute voice-over PowerPoint with a Intention! Template.
Talk to yourself and each other in short “real” bursts. Talk to your friends to touch base. Talk to the person who upsets you and ask questions. Talk to the person you upset and answer questions. When in doubt, talk to someone–especially the “right” person if there is one! See resources on setting expectations and giving feedback below.
Make and keep promises that you can keep–to everyone, including your family and yourself. Don’t make promises that you know are unlikely to be met. Make it a “no promise” if that is the reality.
What’s the bottom line? Stop terrorizing yourself. Look carefully at the reality and the expectations. Do what you can to reduce the “gap” between what’s expected and what you know you can do. Take care of your body and slow down your mind. Above all else, be kind to yourself and others. Find the combination that works for you and just do it!
A note on VALERIE BROWN: who has generously contributed some of the links on this page.
Other Mavis & Company Resources
The following short “chapters” are taken from our learning modules.
Setting Clear and Mutual Expectations: When things aren’t going as you expected, consider if you have a clear and mutual agreement. If not, use this approach to set one. There is no need to give feedback if there was no agreement.
Soliciting and Giving Feedback: Getting out of judgment and into clear information is an underlying theme in this piece. Don’t let valuable feedback fester in the face of pressure!
People Are Funny: We are unique and complex human beings. This approach provides a conceptual framework for dealing with people who are challenging for you.
Getting Really Clear: Complex situations call for extreme clarity, and it’s hard to come by.