Our professional credibility and effectiveness can easily be worn down by too much stress, directly affecting our image, our behaviours and others perceptions, let alone the personal impact, often affecting confidence and our ability to bounce back. Recognising the 4 most common stressors (Dr Karl Albrecht) can help us spot early warning signs and take steps to manage ourselves and the situation better. Which common type of stress derails you? 1. Time Stress - perhaps the most common and easily recognisable.
Symptoms: worrying that there is just too much to do, looming deadlines and rushing from meeting to meeting. Feeling overwhelmed or possibly trapped.
Suggestions: Step back, take a helicopter view and get clear on your real priorities. Consider whether you are a lark or an owl, when your most productive times of the day are and look to manage your schedule accordingly. Learn how to say "No", be assertive and manage interruptions. 2. Anticipatory Stress - worrying about something in the future - either a specific event or just a general feeling of unease about what the future looks like
Symptoms: Sleepless nights, procrastination, finding it difficult to make decisions and commit
Suggestions: Practice meditation. Visualise the situation going well. Understand what you are "fearful" of and learn ways to build your confidence and how to handle whatever it is you think could go wrong. Invest in some "me-time" and think about what you would like your future to be. 3. Situational Stress - finding yourself in a situation that you have no control over - commonly this involves a feeling that you are "Being done to" e.g. redundancy, loss of status, used as a "scapegoat".
Symptoms: Feelings of resentment, being treated unfairly. Anger. Sense of hopelessness as you find yourself in a situation you had not anticipated.
Suggestions: Recognise the emotions that are fueling your thinking and behaviour. Learn how to control your emotions so that you can handle difficult situations with dignity. Fine tune your communication skills so that you can say what you need to say without "losing it". Consider the options you do have that could improve or remove the situation. 4. Encounter Stress - worrying about getting into conversation or meeting an individual(s). This type of stress is also common for those working in "helping professions" - HR, Healthcare who spend a great deal of their time working with unhappy/unwell or "in conflict" people.
Symptoms: Feeling emotionally and physically drained. A need to withdraw from a place/person/people. Less tolerant or moody with others
Suggestions: Tune into when tiredness is starting to take hold. Take a break - even a 10 minute walk in the fresh air will help. Improve levels of emotional intelligence, negotiation, influence and conflict handling skills. Whichever stress type(s) resonates with you, I hope this article has provided some ideas to strengthen your coping mechanisms.