Ever heard the saying stress is the silent killer?
This saying actually holds some weight. You might not realize what a cocktail of hormones stress actually produces. And they don’t have a positive effect on our bodies.
This hormone release was great back in the stone age. A helpful defense mechanism for a person to stay safe from any potential adversities. That shadow in the long grass. The sound of a twig snapping in the trees.
Unfortunately, our brain chemistry hasn’t changed since. And we still have the same stress response/hormone release to everything our mind sees as a threat. Which are not actual threats.
*Tough deadlines from demanding clients or self-imposed.
*Being disturbed during periods of deep work, constant distractions and time pressure.
*That meeting which could have been an email.
It is all a waste of our time, which is something so valuable to us. And makes us feel stressed when we know we are wasting it.
Over a prolonged period some common behavioral signs that stress is high are:
*Missing work, late, excessive defensiveness, social withdrawal
*Physical signs like frequent headaches, neck ache, backache, excess fatigue.
*Then there are the emotional symptoms; heighten worry and anger.
The important thing is recognizing these signs. Because the way we tend to deal with them is not conducive to good health
To combat this it is prudent to address the issue by identifying triggers.
Who – is it a friend spouse or work colleague?
What – is it a task, or topic?
Where – is it a physical location? your office? your house?
When – does it come at a particular time, i.e. in a particular meeting?
One of the biggest ways to curb this is by managing your availability.
Look at your accessibility – how much time you allow yourself to be interrupted by others! If this is high you might want to make yourself not universally available.
Managing your digital products/surroundings.
Pick a small time window ( 30 minutes ) and turn off the phone for deep work. Be away from your desk / find a conference room/coffee shop /or go off-site (if viable).
When it comes to managing your interactions you have the choice to avoid! Decline unnecessary meetings. When it comes to engaging with people you wish not to. Interact, be civil and polite, then disengage. Make your excuses and move on.
Making these positive personal choices will help you control stress levels.
Then there are the things outside of work that you have more control over.
Exercise will alleviate stress levels. You don’t have to go crazy. – start small with the minimum effective dose; be it one or 2 sessions a week. You can always increase the weekly frequency if you want to.
Your diet can also help you to feel energized by having the right foods at the right time. Energy-dense and slow-release carbohydrates will help you sustain focus and productivity. Caffeine will also help but remember to keep within 400mg and try to have a mid-afternoon cut-off. You don’t want it messing up your sleep!
So this week I have some homework for you (please have this completed before my next blog. No excuses! This is not the type of homework that your dog can eat!)
*Address one clear person or task trigger – how you will change the nature of the interaction?
*Make one change to diet or exercise.
*Choose one positivity stimulant that you will embrace once a week
Let me know how you get on.