As business people, we’re all too aware that a certain amount of stress comes with the territory. It’s difficult to remain completely cool, calm and collected when you’re in the middle of an annual contract negotiation or there’s internal pressure to retain business profitability. In fact, a certain amount of stress can even have a beneficial effect and improve our performance. However, we all need to be aware of the tipping point when stress negatively impacts our mental health and turns into burnout, anxiety or depression.
How to recognise the signs of stress:
Here are six signs that your stress levels are getting out of control:
- You feel overwhelmed and can’t think straight
- You find it difficult tomake a decision
- You’re having trouble sleeping or wake up worrying
- You’re experiencing physical symptoms such as tight shoulders, headaches or stomach troubles
- When you receive constructive feedback, it feels like personal criticism
- You hear yourself assuming worst case scenarios and always focus on the negative
Once you’ve identified that stress is having a damaging effect on your health and wellbeing, you need to take practical steps to eliminate anxiety and gain a greater sense of balance in your life.
Top five steps to help you manage stress
- Visualise positive outcomes – instead of using your imagination to think up worst-case scenarios, picture what success looks like. This could be updating your LinkedIn profile with a new job title or signing a new contract with a client.
- Focus on what you can control – try not to waste your time and energy worrying about things you can’t influence, such as world events or the economy. Instead, focus on managing your own mood and taking practical steps to improve your mental state.
- Ask for support -remember it’s a sign of resourcefulness rather than a weakness. Ask for help from a mentor, coach or colleague to help you manage your stress and find a way for you to move forward.
- Actively build relaxation time into your week – exercise, socialise, read a book, sing or breathe deeply!– do whatever you find de-stresses you. Mindfulness is a powerful technique to calm your mind and boost your sense of well-being. Apps such as Calm and Headspace can help you incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily life.
- Keep things in perspective – when you’re struggling with anxiety, work can feel overwhelming. Try to focus on the other elements you have in your life to keep a sense of balance. This could be your family, friends or any hobbies and sports you do that can help you feel grounded.
Remember, we are constantly put into stressful situations, what is important is the coping mechanisms we develop to deal with them. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus so wisely said, “It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters.”