How Can I Remain Balanced in a Stressed Business?
Today we are going to look at how an individual person can better cope in a business that is stressed. Next time we will look at the company itself, and what strategies can help a stressed business maintain its mental health. There are three main ingredients to maintaining mental health as an individual in a stressed business. The first is to become aware of your reaction to stress. The second is to see the effects of your reaction in the business context. Thirdly, is to find more effective solutions to the stress in the business.
As an individual person surviving in the workforce, self awareness is essential because as stress increases you are likely to fall into old defense pasterns. So it is important to know how you react to stress. This includes both what ways are your coping mechanisms are helpful and in what ways are they a barrier to your success. For example, if when you are stressed do you put your head down and work harder? If so, the benefit is that you may become more productive, however the disadvantage may be that you stop listening to others and stop looking where you are going. Another example is that you may become more directive and push others harder. The advantage to this is that you may increase control over the direction of the project or the company, but the disadvantage is that your leadership style may become a dictatorship and you may loose the morale of your workers. Another possible reaction to stress may be that you become increasingly aware of others and hypertensive to the stress around you. The advantage is that you are very aware that appropriate action to the stressful environment is required, but the disadvantage is that you may become highly anxious and find it hard to speak up. In short, recognizing your reaction to stress is the first step to addressing it.
The second step is to take a step back! Here it is important to reflect on how you can address the disadvantages of your reaction to stress. This may require counselling, yoga, meditation, exercise or similar appropriate solutions to reducing the stress itself so you can get clarity of mind. Mindfulness is a very effective way of addressing this, as it can both decrease stress and increase awareness of your reactions to the stress. Mindfulness is simply the ability to detach from the thoughts, body tension and emotions and watch them with curiosity and awareness. This type of detachment is beneficial as we can see what is actually happening within ourselves. It is important to note that this process is very different from becoming aloof or suppressing thoughts or emotions. Detaching peacefully and WATCHING mindfully is all about increasing self awareness and seeing what we might otherwise not want to see. It may also mean feeling and learning to tolerate unpleasant emotions. However the benefits in the end can be freedom from stress, anxiety and depression. So, step two is to see how your reaction to stressful circumstances increases your suffering and contributes to the negative dynamics within the business itself.
Step three is to then ask, what could I think, feel or do differently that would contribute to a better outcome in this difficult situation? For example, perhaps instead of working harder, the answer is “working smarter”. Maybe getting different ideas, approaches and learning about new business initiatives will bring about more rewarding outcomes than simply doing more of what you have been doing in the past. Another example is that it may be that a different leadership style can help staff to better cope, feel more confident in their positions and increase value and respect in the workplace. Or it maybe that speaking up in a way that helps empowers both you and the business you are working for is the answer. There are a range of different personal reactions and therefore solutions to stress. The key is to know yourself and commit to change if that is what is needed to decrease stress.
This may not be the whole answer as there are a number of things that are outside our control and are not our responsibility to change. If we aim to influence the situation positively and things do not change then perhaps the next step is to detach and come back to what you do have control over. Remaining stuck in unpleasant circumstances and believing that you are helpless to change it, can eventually lead to depression. So come back to what you can change in your own life to create a better outcome. If a stressed business cannot or will not change then perhaps looking else where can alleviate your helplessness and open up opportunities.
Ultimately, a business is only as good as its workers, and visa-verse! If you feel stressed and you are aware that the business you are working in, own or are managing is a big part of what is contributing to this stress, then seek appropriate help. If the business needed an accountant, book keeper or financial adviser, it would be a “no brainer”… access the appropriate expertise. It is the same for mental and emotional issues. In the current market, anxiety, high stress and depression is becoming more prevalent. When we look at the stress of the economic market, this is completely understandable. The trick is to access counselling earlier rather than later.
Often we belief we are more powerless than we really are in a business. Embracing your strengths and moving towards your personal potential is an asset to the business you work for. Working through old defenses and discovering new more effective ways of dealing with stress in your business, can result in you realising your potential within the business you are working in.