According to a Monster.com survey, workplace stress is a real issue. The results indicate 61% of respondents consider workplace stress a cause of illness, and 84% claim it impacts their personal lives in some form or fashion. Perhaps the most alarming statistic was that 66% said those in authority do nothing to help alleviate it.
In fact, those in authority – across several studies – were a major source of the stress.
Stress stems from several factors, and for each, there are internal contributors and external contributors. Here are just a few.
- Perfection – Perfectionism can be rooted in your own thoughts, insecurities, and unrealistic expectations – or those of your company leaders.
- Financial Pressures – Internal factors include your mindset around the issue of money (fear of loss or, ironically for some, fear of success), your expectations for how much you need to live the life you desire, and your habits of management. External factors are determined by the mindset, priorities, and practices of company leaders.
- Conflict – Internal conflict stems from unresolved issues, whether real or perceived. External conflict stems from these same sources – unresolved issues, real or perceived.
- Loss of Control – It is human nature to desire at least some form of control over ourselves, our circumstances, and our environment. This creates an inherent problem in today’s 24/7 world, where if not kept in check, the demands of work can control all other areas of life.
How can you lessen the stress?
Dr. Henry Cloud said it in one word, “Boundaries.”
Boundaries are important in the workplace – on both sides of the equation. As a leader, you want a workforce of people who are effectively engaged and get results. If your team is on the verge of burnout, your results will be impacted.
As an employee, you want to do your job and do it well, but you also need boundaries to ensure that your life stays well-rounded and that your relationships are healthy.
These guidelines work for both leaders and employees, and for internal and external stress factors.
Apply these 3R’s of Stress Reduction
Releasing a situation is letting go of a perceived hurt by another person, a dysfunctional relationship with money, or the mistreatment of our own bodies. Symptoms that indicate the need to release something are things like cardiovascular disease, being in debt, or avoiding places where we might encounter “that other person.” If your situation is something you need to release, it’s time to do so. You are hurting no one but yourself if you continue to carry it.
Release perfection, both in your expectations of yourself and your expectations of employees. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Aim for progress, not perfection.
This term can be confusing. Most think it means making up with someone else – shaking hands, forgiving, and forgetting. But oftentimes, it simply means coming to terms with reality and accepting it, which is an agreement with either yourself or with someone else. Dropping the wishing and hoping, and recognizing that things are as they are – and that we have choices to be with those people or things – or not. Reconciliation can occur within us, or relationally.
In a house, reframing is placing a picture or a door in a new frame so that it hangs right and works well. In the relational world – how you relate to yourself and others – it is changing the way you view and experience events, ideas, concepts, and emotions to find more positive alternatives.
Now that you have these options, where do you start?
Begin by identifying what stories you are carrying with you that need changing.
What’s the source of tension? Is it money? A relationship with someone else? An old hurt of some kind that won’t go away?
Then, ask yourself what needs changing.
Whether or not your point of tension involves another person, you can change the way you interface with your particular situation. You are in charge of whether or not you opt to be in the situation in the first place, and if so, how you want to be involved.
By deciding to take charge and delineate better boundaries for your life, you are on the road to creating a happier and healthier outcome.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.