The more we talk about stress, the more stressful it gets!
For many of us on a typical morning, it is common to have mental chatter even before we’re fully awake. We think about our task list, plan for the entire day, and let the brain go on a trip even before the day has actually begun.
Around the world, over 4% of the population suffers from anxiety enough to cripple them. Stress levels are the highest in developing nations and countries in the first world. However, a conversation around stress and anxiety, and its relevance to the workplace isn’t something that we usually talk about.
People in general and employees, in particular, have no systematic means and mechanisms in place to handle their worries better. There is little, if any, acceptance around the fact that stress and negative emotion is a common aspect in all human beings.
With that, it falls on every individual to manage their stress better on a personal level. Leaders, on the other hand, need to find ways to encourage a conversation around stress and management techniques. The lines between the workplace and life outside of work have already blurred, and it is up to every single one of us to take charge of this insidious yet seldom-discussed aspect of our lives.
In this article, we talk about ways to manage stress as an individual. You may be an employee, manager or a leader, or you may be going through a transition in life. Here are a few ways to tackle stress and clear your mind so you can do more.
In the Indian context, a discussion around stress or mental health is not very common. Usually, people in need of help are often made to feel like it is no big deal, which may prompt them to be in denial about what they’re going through.
If you have an astute sense of anxiety through the day, if you reach for a snack when you don’t need it, if you cannot sleep or work effectively, or if you find that you’re not hungry, you are undergoing stress. These are the body’s most common responses to a stressor- others might include anger outbursts, having no energy after work, feeling trapped, etc. The first thing to do is to accept that there is a situation and that this situation can be addressed.
Luckily, the stigma surrounding professional coaching or counselling is fading. Those who still feel victimised should reach out to their primary healthcare practitioner and share their concerns. Often, mental health is not discussed in professional and social settings because it causes no ‘visible’ harm. However, more organisations are waking up to the fact that a disengaged, inefficient employee is facing some personal issue that needs to be addressed correctly.
A trained professional can help you navigate through the situation. Every stressful situation is unique, which is where expert help comes in handy.
Once you recognise that you are, indeed, stressed out, the idea is to navigate through it in order to lead a better life. Whether you choose to take a few minutes to calm down at the end of each day, or whether you use breathing as a means to realign, consistency is your friend.
Consistently practising behaviours and activities that help you stay calm will have a compounding effect over time. Also, self-talk has a crucial role to play here. Whatever the situation may be, a professional can help you find ways to talk yourself out of the worry and anxiety.
Business leaders, mental health experts and yogis around the world swear by the positive effect of mindfulness. As an exercise, you can practice it whenever you feel like. Mindfulness involves completely immersing yourself in the present and letting go of everything else.
If that seems impossible, it is, at least in the beginning. Again, with practice, you get better at it. Studies show that mindfulness can help improve physical and mental conditions including IBS, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Worth giving a try, isn’t it?
As the adage goes, every battle is first fought in the head and then outside of it. It helps immensely to play out the anxiety-causing situations and asking, “What’s the worst that can happen?”