Self-management - Managing stress
The importance of stress management
As a leader you have a lot of responsibility, and with responsibility comes stress and pressure. But you can't let that stress and pressure get the better of you because your team members look to you for guidance and stability.
They need you to be calm and level-headed, even when things get tough. If you let things get the better of you, your team members will too, and it will negatively impact their morale and productivity.
To help you keep on top of your stress, it's important that you can recognise when your stress levels are getting too high, and know what to do to get yourself back on track.
Did you know?
Typically we think of any amount of stress as a bad thing, but that's not always the case. At low levels, stress can help you focus and give you the motivation you need to reach your goals.
It's only when your stress levels get too high that it stops being helpful and starts being harmful to both your productivity and your health.
Signs your stress levels are too high
- Emotional symptoms
When you're over-stressed, it's common to become more emotional. You may feel anxious, irritable, detached, depressed, or a combination of those feelings.
- Physical symptoms
Excess stress can cause physical symptoms such as back or neck pain, muscle tension or headaches, stomach aches, and heart palpitations.
- Behavioural symptoms
A high level of stress can also impact your behaviour. You may find yourself over-eating, under-eating, having more angry outbursts than usual, abusing drugs or alcohol, withdrawing from friends and family, or suddenly becoming interested in risk-taking behaviour like gambling or extreme sports.
Coping with Stress
One of the best things you can do when you are stressed is just to stop for a moment. Put everything aside, try to calm yourself down, and take some time to assess where you are at and what you need to do to move forward.
Focus on what is in your control to change
In any stressful situation, some things will be in your control to change, others will not. Don’t waste your energy focusing on things that you cannot change - no matter how much you think about it, it won't make a difference.
Learn to identify and accept the things you can't change, and apply your energy to the things that you can.
Talk to someone
When you're stressed you may feel like retreating and spending time alone, but that's the opposite of what you should be doing. Talking through your feelings with someone you trust is a helpful way of coping with your stress.
Do something fun
Working long hours when you're on a tight deadline may seem like the only way to get ahead. However, if you never take time to recharge, your stress levels will continue to rise and you'll find yourself overwhelmed and unproductive. Make sure to carve out time every day to do something you enjoy.
Recognising that your stress levels are getting too high is the first step in the right direction. The sooner you catch onto the signs and symptoms, the sooner you can apply the coping techniques that work best for you and get your stress levels under control.