How to deal with stress at work?
Increasing sick leaves and good people leaving without obvious reason. What is happening in today’s organizations? One answer is stress. Stress is a common phenomenon of our time and a big driver of both unhappiness and unhealthiness. And for numerous difficulties at work. But what can we do? How can we lead a more relaxed life? How can we work without feeling like being stuck on a hamster wheel? And how can we help our employees and teams to deal with stress better? A must-read by Gabriele Lang, stress expert and founder of UP’N’CHANGE. Get her best tips and ideas on how to deal with stress at work.
- The backbone of stress today
- What are signs of stress at work?
- When stress leads to conflict
- Tech against stress
- Strategies for managing stress in the workplace
- When it’s time for a stress management initiative
- Cope with stress at work: Conclusion
The backbone of stress today
Crises and constant change make us feel less secure. We have the feeling of losing control, which in turn makes us anxious. This is especially evident at the present time when we are confronted with numerous challenges: natural disasters, pandemics, war, corruption, lack of qualified personnel, digitization, and the rise of mental health issues. Currently, our life seems to show an imbalance towards action and urgent, short-term tasks. We feel like a car constantly overtaking. But in the long run that is exhausting. We get stressed out.
What are signs of stress at work?
You recognize the effects of stress best by observing your own feelings and body sensations.
Common signs of stress in general are:
- You are constantly tired
- You don’t sleep well
- Your thought carousel doesn’t stop
- You feel powerless or at the mercy of others
- Your consumption of food, alcohol, sweets, or streaming devices starts to negatively affect your life
If work is experienced as stressful it can feel like a spreading fire that takes up more and more space. Preventing you from doing work effectively.
At the individual as well as a team level, stress at work can appear as:
- Work is not done on time
- Discussions are enervating and never-ending
- No clear and relevant objectives are visible
- Efforts are not leading to effective results
- Progress and creativity are blocked
- Working together feels hard
This then results in a significant waste of time, cost, and motivation in companies. Increased sick leave and good people quitting follow.
When stress leads to conflict
In challenging times our stress levels rise, which results in increasing uneasiness. This also means that if pressure rises, one gets out of balance quicker, leading to more escalation and conflicts within teams. Add different stress typologies to the mix and you have an even higher level of escalation. So a key step in dealing with stress is getting to know yourself. Knowing your stress typology is so valuable as it will give you clear guidance on how to be personally more competent. And also on how to help others in your team deal with stress better.
Stress typology test
We have developed stress typologies and are using them to create valuable insights. Curious?
Then find out your stress typology easily through the Stress Type-Check.
Good vs. bad stress at work
Positive stress, also called eustress, refers to situations that make us excited and in which we are highly motivated, alert, and concentrated. We are then in a good mood and can enjoy that kind of stress. Bad stress on the other hand is when we experience situations or people as stressful and our body reacts with the increased release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Usually, this is what we mean when we use the word “stress” today.
If such a situation is experienced as threatening though (even if not real, but experienced as such) and lasts for a longer period of time, it is as if a car is constantly in overdrive. That leads to a lack of relief, too few phases of relaxation, and signs of fatigue, which in the long run results in serious physical and psychological effects.
Tech against stress
Using technology to combat stress and its effects may sound like a no-go. Studies clearly show (e.g., the Meta-Analysis of Trait Emotional Intelligence by Mahreen Khan & Co) that the rise of social media and smartphones has influenced our behavior and interactions and lowered our emotional capability. Additionally, we all are challenged by never having enough time and resources. So technology is a driver of stress.
But it can also be part of the remedy: Finding support online, easily accessible tools for everyone, like the digiTools from UP’N’CHANGE, enables us to address challenges individually and on-demand. We suddenly have professional support without excuses. The perfect way to get active, reduce stress, and become more balanced and effective by benefiting from the advantages of virtual tools.
Organizations are realizing how important support for their managers and staff is becoming (from an employer branding and productivity point of view). How important it is to offer support concerning the development of personal, social, and creative (=emotional) competencies. The Conflict-Facilitator for example is a step-by-step guide to getting from a conflict to concrete solutions.
Ways to deal with stress at work
The key question always is: What to do? Are there universal strategies anyone can apply to deal with stress? And of course, there are certain insights that benefit anyone in relieving stress. For example, breathing exercises automatically lead to physical improvements.
But at the same time, we are all unique. There are different stress typologies, so not everyone behaves exactly the same if they are stressed. Understanding your own patterns of stress behavior will always help in improving your competence to deal with challenges. We experience that in the positive ratings and feedback of the digiTools of UP’N’CHANGE.
Not to forget though is that there is a difference in the mindset concerning change. Not everyone is willing and open to support, to improve, and change the situation. And there is no magic pill to make other people move.
When it’s time for a stress management initiative
Obviously, improving your own stress management skills is beneficial for everyone. In organizational contexts in particular, there are a few markers showing you: It might be time for a stress management initiative.
Such markers are for example:
- “It cannot go on like this!”, sighed a team lead
- Conflicts within a team, with the management, with certain stakeholders
- Good people quitting
- The danger of losing certain employees or high potential
- Negative press or negative results in the employee survey
How to react if you observe markers like these? The first step is always understanding what the person in charge says, how they describe the situation, what exact symptoms are seen and what the gap to their expectations and objectives is. Only after this understanding, the “how” can be addressed. In my opinion, the mix of personal and digital techniques is clearly the future, as no company can afford not to offer support to every employee. But resources need to be used efficiently.
Just imagine companies offering digital help in improving personal competence, communication, and teamwork to all of their employees. Our mission at UP’N’CHANGE clearly is to help avoid unproductive mistakes in these areas. Our tools support in such a way that anyone can deal with challenges independently and as needed. These tools guide the user with thought-provoking questions, techniques, and meditations safely to clarity and solutions. They help develop the necessary emotional competencies by actively dealing with specific problems while saving time and money. They enable the necessary basis for achieving sustainable success.
Cope with stress at work: Conclusion
Knowing your stress behavior very well can lead to a much better balance in life and way more success. On an individual level, your way to achieve this is by reflecting on how you experience stress and what leads to it. By gaining insights into your beliefs and drivers. And by learning different techniques for stress relief concerning body, mind, and soul. Which you then can share with the people in your team and organizations. And be aware: Don’t be too harsh on yourself – it’s a life-long learning process! But a very rewarding one.
If you need support for stress management at work right now, feel welcome to use the digiTools of UP’N’CHANGE. Or get in touch for a chat on stress management on the organizational level.
Passionate solution finder for complex challenges combining insights of psychology, business, and a systemic approach. Success is granted to those who look behind the curtain. Managers who turn the focus on themselves when challenges come along and who resist the temptation to put the blame on others. Who understand that leadership is more than just functional competence. That what counts is the “what” and the “how” for more power and success.
Her professional background covers 28 years in international companies and her own companies. With UP’N’CHANGE and Creates Success the psychologist and business graduate combines the advantages of digital and analog tools to support the development of essential skills for more impact. Skills4Success.
This interview was also published by the Think Beyond Group on June the 22nd of 2022.