From preparing speeches and meetings to appointments and dates, we encounter various stressors in life. Stress can have a number of impacts on your health, and it may be no surprise that it can also affect our businesses.
While unpleasant, the physical response to stress, the “fight or flight” response is an evolutionary survival mechanism that allowed people to flee from dangerous situations. The body releases stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine, which then trigger various physiological changes, such as increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, and quickened breathing. This response is useful in life-threatening situations, but the issue arises when it is triggered repeatedly in less dire situations. Chronic stress can lead to other ailments such as high blood pressure and changes in the brain that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction.
As leaders, stress can impact the emotions of the entire team in addition to their own effectiveness. A study found that stress is contagious: spending time around a stressed person can make a person more anxious. During times of crisis, we must be proactive about managing our worries.
While there is no cure for stress, there are techniques for managing it. Many factors may be out of our control, especially during a historically stressful time like the one in which we are currently living. It may take a combination of skills and behaviours that will help you to weather through turbulent times. The next time you experience distress, try one of the following.
Just as some things can cause a stress response, there are certain activities that can help your body return to a state of calm, also known as the “relaxation response.” Try breathing exercises from your core, quietly repeating a soothing mantra, or visualizing your favourite relaxing place. For those who are more spiritually or religiously inclined, praying would even be a good option.
Exercise is commonly recommended to alleviate stress, and with good reason. It’s good for both brain and body. For one, it’s a good way to divert your attention away from your stressor, but it also relieves muscle tension. Furthermore, it stimulates the production of feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
Keep a Journal
Many coping techniques help to alleviate stress in the moment, but it can be beneficial to take a moment and address the stressors themselves. Committing your thoughts and emotions to paper can help you figure out the source of your anxiety. The Harvard Business Review explains, “By uncovering what’s causing you stress, you can develop workable solutions to address the sources and not just the symptoms.”