15 Dec How to eliminate stress and tension?
A few days ago, I met an acquaintance who works in a high position in an international company that is deeply affected by the pandemic. After greeting him, I asked him: “What’s new?”
He laughed and replied: “It’s new that before this thing called COVID-19, I thought I was constantly under stress, and now that previous level of stress compared to this current one even seems desirable to me.”
This is common in the professional and private spheres of life. People experience challenges of a certain level that seem like a great emotional burden to them. However, when something more difficult and challenging happens to them, only then does the belief arise that the previous challenge was not as dramatic as it seemed. Man’s ability to cope with ups and downs and doing business in changed conditions is one of the key measurements of survival and progress in times of change.
There is a mental law, cause and effect, popularly called the Steel Law of the Universe.
According to this law, for everything that happens to us in life, which is the consequence, there is a certain cause.
One of our primary tasks is to discover the causes that cause stress and tension in our lives, and do everything in our power to reduce or eliminate them.
Stress is one of the biggest pains of the modern business environment and often relies on three external points:
- Exposure to a huge amount of information from all sides
- Speed and precision of performing tasks that is expected of us
- An increase in the number of competing companies, products or services in the market
The average businessperson today receives a huge number of messages, inquiries and requests through electronic forms of communication. Research shows that more than 50% of sent emails are unnecessary. More than 50% of people who were added in the CC did not have to receive the email. The average businessperson spends two and a half hours a day corresponding with colleagues of different levels of responsibility, and the number of tasks and the speed needed to solve them is increasing. All this is slowly increasing the external pressure from day to day.
In addition to external triggers, there are internal triggers that are located in each of us. There are usually six key internal sources of stress that we need to deal with:
Large amounts of work, short deadlines, pressure from clients and management, are often sources of negative emotions. Negative emotions draw positive energy and lower your physical and emotional resilience.
Prevention is often the mental-physical preparation you need to cope more easily. If you sleep for 7 to 8 hours, you are more likely to recover better from the previous day. Nutrition is also very important, because the amount of energy you will have during the day depends on the choice of food, so eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, protein-rich foods, and of course drink plenty of water.
It is also important to exercise regularly, because mental health is closely related to physical and vitality.
2. Lack of personal purpose
When a person has a personal goal, deep inside he creates the feeling that everything he does, he actually does for himself. It creates the feeling that he is employed in a company called his Name and Surname, that every step of his job is actually one step towards what leads him to something he wants.
Lack of personal goal puts most people in a situation where they think they are working for someone else, and this is one of the biggest misconceptions that exists. Every company is just a platform that serves to show your real worth. You rent your services to your company. If you want to be at a higher level than the current one, the quantity and quality of your services need to be at a higher level as well.
3. Incomplete action
People have a natural need to finish what they started. Due to the large amount of information, the list of priorities changes, it often happens during an activity that you have not completed. A quick change of focus and the knowledge that you haven’t finished your previous activity puts pressure on negative emotions that create stress.
One of the things that can be helpful is the ranking of tasks by priority. By following that list, you complete the tasks of the highest value first.
I advised the managers I worked with on stress management not to open their e-mails until 10 or 10:30 in the morning when they come to work. I remember their facial expressions when I first suggested it to them, they said: “But that’s impossible.” However, very quickly most of them realised that it was not impossible, it was just a perception of their belief in impossibility.
Most of them set priorities for tomorrow in the afternoon. However, when they would come to work and open their e-mails, something else would immediately become a priority and the whole list from yesterday would suffer changes.
Those who accepted the advice, for the first hour and a half at work, were dedicated to the most important task that they were supposed to complete according to that day’s priorities, and after that they opened their e-mails.
If you do not have well-ranked priorities, someone else will surely send you tasks that are on his priority list.
4. Fear of failure
This fear has its echo in you – I have to, but I can’t. I can’t, but I have to. The by-product of this mental state is indecision. The root of this fear is also in early childhood, when we learned that we should do what is required of us and if we wanted to do something else: “Study, finish the homework, clean your room, don’t touch it, be good, go to sleep, you can do this, you can’t do that… etc.” All these commands are deeply written in each of us at different levels of the subconscious and they activate our negative emotions every time we do what we have to do instead of what we want.
Overcoming this inner trigger of negative emotions is one of the primary tasks you have ahead of you. Fear is best treated when you are constantly doing what you are afraid of. Improving in that area over time eliminates the root source of stress, and when there is no stress your mind is much more creative.
5. Fear of rejection
This is another trigger we picked up in early childhood:
- What will happen if I don’t finish on time?
- What will the boss say?
- How will that affect my job, my safety?
- What will colleagues from the department say?
People are often unaware that this kind of internal dialogue takes place in them, because it happens on a subconscious level. In every company, there are people who are obsessed with their bosses, and over time, a “haste disease” develops in them. They will do everything in their power to deliver the task or information to the boss on time or ahead of time.
The side effect of this mental state is aggression and intolerance, as well as frequent conflicts with colleagues who, according to their pattern, “slow down the process”.
The first step in resolving this fear is to become aware that it exists. Eradication requires long-term and gradual work on oneself with the help of the environment.
6. Denial and anger
These two triggers are often strongly related which is why I list them as one. Denial has its roots also in early childhood, when we were punished for something we did or did not do. For this reason, it is activated as an automatic defence mechanism that should help us avoid punishment. When one of the colleagues points out to another colleague that he was a “bottleneck” in solving a task, denial is usually the first reaction of many. Then there is the need to redirect the attack so that a colleague who feels attacked will retaliate with the same force, or will redirect the attack to someone else. If retaliation or redirection does not give an adequate result, anger is a backup option. Expressing anger subconsciously increases the likelihood that things will calm down, because no one wants the conflict to escalate. A state of anger triggers adrenaline that pumps blood to the arms and legs and thus creates a mental urge that says – fight or flight. Taking into account the fact that in today’s business environment this type of behaviour is unacceptable, this whole energy shock returns to the person who produced it and over time poisons his health and relationships.
At the end of this text, I would like to send an important message to everyone who reads it: “It is not what happens around you at work that causes stress, but the way you react to it.”
You have chosen to do what you do. You accepted that job, that position. You were the absolute king of your choice because you said – yes. If something does not satisfy you, there are always solutions.
However, if you think you have no choice, that what you are doing is good in relation to the labour market, I can freely tell you – that is the biggest source of stress.
The feeling known as the statement: “I can’t change anything, keep quiet and suffer”, is the greatest known source of stress that exists in today’s business environment – a feeling of helplessness.
People are usually divided into three categories:
- Those who are focused on what they want and are looking for a way to get there
- Those who are good where they are and fit in, neither complain nor brag
- Those who are focused on what does not suit them, and look for a reason or culprit for it
Locate yourself and your team members by these categories and don’t forget that the absence of a sense of powerlessness creates space for a sense of power.