Creating less stress from the start

A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realisation that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” – Denis Waitley

As organisations continue to adapt to change, employee engagement is an increasing area of focus for businesses. But where do you start?

In order to boost your emotional and physical health, you must take responsibility for your personal, physical and emotional wellbeing. Make it part of your job to maximise health. Take the time to identify your own bad habits, negative attitudes and other harmful behaviours that have become second nature. You may find that you orchestrate much of your own stress.

There is no doubt that personal resilience needs to be worked at. Employees need to take care of themselves, ensuring their work-life balance is not out of kilter. They need to make sure that they get enough sleep, that they take regular exercise and that they eat healthily. They also need to participate in enough life-enhancing leisure activities that will restore optimism, vitality and peace of mind.

Creating positive stress

Stress affects people differently.  Some people seem to thrive on extremely stressful lifestyles, while others struggle to cope with everyday life.

Everyone has an optimum level of stress.  Too little excitement and too few challenges may lead to an extremely dull life (from the perspective of some), yet too much stress can lead to health problems.  Nevertheless, a certain amount of stress can actually prove to be good for individuals.

Positive stress can spur people on to achieve better results than would otherwise be attained, it is also extremely useful in acting as an enabler to avoid problems and dangers.  It is a motivator to solve problems and is an important warning signal that something is wrong with an individual’s life. Be proactive, not reactive. Identify which factors in a stressful situation are under your control.

Changing just a few things can significantly reduce the impact of stress:

  • Understand and balance your schedule, including daily tasks, longer term work commitments and responsibilities. Striking a manageable work-life balance is essential to avoid burn out.
  • Aim for amazing, rather than invincible to ensure your goal is vaguely attainable. Be sure not to over commit yourself and learn to say ‘no.’
  • Build in time cushions with everything you do and schedule regular breaks and realistic time scales.
  • Prioritise your tasks and organise them into ‘easy to complete’ groups. Tackle the high priority first and work through the rest when you have time. Get the tasks you dread done first!

Understanding our ‘triggers’

We filter information through our 5 senses and our various experiences, including history, beliefs, memories, and other unconscious filters. Everything we do and feel has some sort of neurological reason for it – when we see, feel, or hear something our brain automatically releases a chemical or hormone and we react depending on that.

Many people prefer to simply accept “the way they are” – whether that be optimistic, anxious, positive, miserable, hyperactive or any other characteristic. However, in some respects our outlook is based on how we’ve been programmed and our model/outlook on the world is based on the foundations of our programming and how they are functioning.

When we communicate with others, we often react unconsciously due to what has occurred. These unconscious reactions are anchors, and our behaviour is a direct reaction due to these anchors. When you better understand yourself and the triggers in your life, you can influence your reactions and therefore communicate better.

For example, if we know that conflict causes personal retreat, then we are able to address this reaction and improve how we handle the reaction by handling the conflict in a new and beneficial manner.

Or, if you are prone to being very detailed, then you will need to be aware of how to manage the dialogue with someone that is big picture orientated. Understanding the differences enables you the choice to amend your style of delivery and use alternative methods of communication if necessary.

Managing stress in the workplace

In the workplace, there are often situations which trigger us to respond in a negative, distressed or irrational way and they are unique to each of us. Regardless of the reason, these situations can leave us feeling frustrated, dissatisfied and potentially unable to achieve.

So, the first step towards managing emotions in the workplace and enabling response to situations in a more effective, rational and controlled way is to understand what it is that is triggering the response. Uncover the emotional triggers by considering whether it is a certain type of person, the things that people say or do, the behaviours that caused the reaction. Notice the patterns and observe their frequency and strength.

What is needed is a holistic, almost systemic approach to stress that recognises the complex interactions between the home and working lives of employees – an angle that appreciates that responsibility for addressing stress at work resides exclusively with neither employer nor employee.  At an extended level, practicing emotional intelligence (EI) at work provides self-confidence and the power to use emotions constructively, whilst positively using the sensory boosts that work individually. EI allows individuals to influence situations by defusing tension, conflict and stress, whilst providing the ability to leverage emotions and use them to solve problems and think effectively. Learning to unravel emotional triggers is a key competency in increasing emotional intelligence.  Adding the knowledge from neuroscience expands the abilities to not only decrease emotional reactions, but deepen the understanding of the messages that feelings communicate about our experience.

Creating a healthy workforce requires both parties to proactively play their part and address obvious areas of conflict to a support this self-reflection and wider understanding.

Take back the control 

So, remember, you are the author of your own story, and taking charge of yourself changes your story into a positive, epic adventure.

Stop worrying about who you are and giving into imposter syndrome. Recognise your competence and achievements and ignore the self-doubt. Work closely with others you feel affinity with and utilise feedback from trusted and valued team members so that alongside smart self-training, you can develop healthy behaviours and reduce stress as you boost your level of achievement.

Asking for honest insight can be refreshing and helpful if you know how to use it – the first step is to make the decision to request it in the first place.

If you are looking to manage and increase employee engagement through change, but it seems a challenge too complex to solve alone, talk to us. Our team have all had real-world experience solving the challenges you’re facing – meaning that we’re ideally placed to offer advice and lend a hand if you need it. For more information, head over to the organisational change section of our website – or give us a call on +44 (0)1491 414 010.

 

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