Stress is increasing with each year.
People continually cite stress as having an increasingly negative impact on their lives.
And as stress has increased, overall health has decreased.
There are positive reasons for stress.
Humans evolved so that when we were in danger our bodies would react a certain way. All functions would be shut down so that we could be hyperactive where necessary to avoid the danger.
Let’s say you encounter a lion in the jungle. That’s a do or die situation. Your body turns off everything that doesn’t matter and gives you the focus and functions necessary to live in that moment.
Your body doesn’t care about its immune system function when you’re staring down a lion. It only cares about running fast and avoiding that lion.
But the troubling thing with stress is that it seems our bodies can’t differentiate certain stressors like being yelled at by a boss and that threatening lion.
Lion vs. Workplace
Reading a harsh email.
Working on a cutthroat team.
Walking on edge with a volatile boss.
These are all common in the workplace. And it’s a big reason that so many suffer from stress overload or chronic stress today.
Our bodies are acting as they should. When someone receives a harsh email they need to survive it so our bodies respond, but if we experience these stressors all the time it will wear us down.
Instead of getting rest and relaxation and building a strong immune system and repairing damage our bodies simply break down.
It’s easy to think that major stressors in life have the biggest impact. And they certainly do. Deaths. Firings. Etc. All impact our lives.
But what about death by a thousand cuts. Or death by a thousand harsh emails or a thousand instances of negative feedback. Or a thousand negative encounters with co-workers.
Daily stressors can be more devastating than major events.
How can you help your team avoid stress?
Here are a few tips.
1. Prioritize De-Stressing For Yourself
People mimic others. They don’t really listen to what people say. They pay attention to what people do.
The first step to take if you want to de-stress your business is to make the decision to do it yourself. You need to get your own house in order before expecting others to do so.
By making changes yourself others will follow. Maybe not all, but you’ll be surprised at how your team follows your lead.
If you’re burning out, eating poorly and avoiding exercise your team will follow.
If you’re being consistent with your hours, your diet and your rest your team will also follow.
2. Imagine The Worst Case Scenario
And realize that we often overdramatize things. We often overreact.
Bad things will happen in business. It’s easy to think that something bad will lead to demise. But obviously that rarely happens.
I like to imagine thew worst case scenario in life. Usually after thinking through it, it’s not really that bad. It has a calming effect.
Ok, we lost a million dollar deal. What’s the worst case resulting from this. Think through it. You’ll calm down and figure out a plan.
3. Sleep, Diet & Exercise
These are the basics.
We live in this weird time where people brag about the number of hours they work and the little sleep they get. I don’t understand it.
Working too much is counterproductive. You’re better off working 40 vs. working 80. You’ll actually get less done if you work beyond 40.
Prioritize health at your company with these three pillars.
4. Align Motivations
Things will get stressful at your company when everybody is out for themselves.
If everybody feels like they’re on an island they’ll be in a stressful state all the time. Always worrying about their own survival, thinking they’re the only ones that can take care of themselves.
As the leader, it’s your challenge to figure out individual motivations and find a way to align those with the organization’s goals.
An employee wants to get on the path to becoming CEO? Ok, here is a path that gives you the best chance for that to happen while you also do work that grows the company.
An employee wants to make more money? Ok, here are projects that grow the company and if you hit the goals you earn more.
5. Focus On The Long-Term
Short-term focus leads to long hours. It leads to unrealistic expectations. These are things that cause stress in employees. They push to get things done, but the critical thing to know is that pushing to get things is never ending.
You push to meet a deadline “just for this one thing”, but shortly after there is another thing and then another.
A long-term outlook evens things out. You focus on a long-term goal and then come back to what you need to do every day or every week to meet that goal.
In the long-term expectations are more reasonable. You don’t push beyond your limits because you can today because you know if you do that it will cut into your productivity tomorrow.
It’s the concept of the 20-mile march.
The same effort each day.
Stress is a huge burden for many businesses. If you find ways to eliminate or lessen it at your company you can gain an edge. You can help your employees lead better lives. It’s a win for everyone involved.