By: Sandi Verrecchia @satoriinsight
Who knew it would be this simple?
As a business professional and current CEO of my company I have learned well over the years that stress is a common problem amongst everyone within the work environment. Stress can arise externally or internally from the work environment and individuals vary in the ways they cope with it. “If you’re too stressed, your performance falls off,” Dr. Sternberg says. “The objective should be not to get rid of stress completely because you can’t get rid of stress – stress is life, life is stress. Rather, you need to be able to use your stress response optimally.” I have come up 2 significant ways that will help individuals cope with stress and eventually use it their advantage.
1. Eating right and sleeping well
Eating right and sleeping well I believe are the most important factors towards coping with stress. While this may seem like common sense, I have seen many co-workers and peers neglect the proper nutrition and sleep required to produce the energy for a productive 8 hour work day.
Sleep is a critical recovery time period in which the body needs to rejuvenate energy for the following day. Lack of sleep can sometimes be caused by uncontrollable factors. However, preparation and knowledge about how sleep works can help control these factors. That being said, it is important to understand the body is intelligent and responds well to scheduled sleep. Maintaining a schedule in which you sleep even 6 hours a day compared to a schedule in which hours vary per night will help increase energy levels. As a result of more consistent sleep, the human brain adapts to its surrounding environment and reacts accordingly.
Eating right is also a very important factor in maintaining higher levels of energy when coping with stress. Proper nutrition does not necessarily always mean eating the right things. The body is like a car and has a fuel tank. Eating breakfast is a necessary step and should not be skipped. Breakfast is the primary fuel that kick starts your engine in the morning. In addition, too much stress is an energy drainer and a motivation killer. Thus eating proper readily available carbohydrates (example: fruits) is a great way to replenish energy needed to concentrate on work and cope with stress. Eating several, smaller meals a day will keep fuel in the tank and the mind more alert. By having optimal energy levels, stress becomes less worrisome and more of a motivator towards working hard and completing tasks in a timely matter.
2. Setting your priorities
One of the most common stress related problems is having multiple projects and/or tasks to deal with simultaneously. With increased responsibility comes increased stress. An increase in responsibility generally means that others are depending on you in some way. The fear of failure or disappointing people that have put trust in you will increase stress levels. However, an easy yet important way to cope with this stress is by setting your priorities.
A way to optimize your stress is by identifying what project/task is of most importance. To do this it is also of importance to understand what your duties are within the organization, the organization’s strategic priorities, and your personal objectives. Focussing on projects/tasks that are of most significance to the organization and are aligned with your objectives creates motivation and in turn pushes productivity. The goal is to use stress as an advantage. Stress cannot be eradicated but it can be controlled. The aligning of priorities will help control stress to a point where it does not feel overwhelming. This will increase motivation to finish projects/tasks that are of importance to you and your organization.
To summarize this blog I believe it is critical for people to get an adequate amount of sleep and proper nutrition in order to properly deal with stress. Furthermore, organizing your priorities in order of importance can minimize the impact of when dealing with stress. Having higher levels of energy and a clear notion view of what is expected of you and the company will keep the stress low enough to use as a motivator towards completion of projects/tasks.
Source: National Institutes of Health “Word on Health”
Epstein, Lawrence, MD and Mardon, Steven, The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, 2007, McGraw Hill Books
CMC, CPCC, MBA
Sandi Verrecchia is a Certified Management Consultant, holds a Masters degree and is a professional Leadership Coach. With over 20 years of experience in the financial services, academic and not for profit sectors, her diverse background of consulting, operations, marketing and sales is a wonderful compliment to her passion for coaching.