I recently ran across some stressful U.S. statistics:
- 48% of people say stress has a negative effect on their life and work.
- 78% experience physical symptoms caused by stress and 73% experience psychological symptoms.
- 48% say stress has increased for them in the last 5 years.
- Job pressure was the number one cause for stress; tension with co-workers and bosses and work overload were the key factors.
Add to job pressure the stress of financial pressure, health issues, relationship challenges, media overload, poor nutrition and sleep deprivation, and it’s no wonder some estimate annual costs to employers in stress-related health care and missed work to be $300B.
Here are eight antidotes for stress:
- Keep your relationships strong. You may have 1,000 Facebook Friends and 500 LinkedIn connections, but do you have at least a few close relationships with people who care about you and whom you trust? These are people where you have regular interactions in more than 140 character sound-bites: where you speak about what’s really going on with you and find support and encouragement.
- Resolve conflicts quickly. Do you have unresolved relationship tension that’s causing stress? Are you holding a grudge? Maybe it’s time to deal with these and move on. Trying to avoid relationship challenges is usually more draining long-term than having that difficult but needed conversation now.
- Don’t worry. Worrying is stressful. It saps energy, life, creativity and resilience. We all worry; the key is not getting stuck there. There are several ways out:
- Ask for help. One way out of worry may involve asking a boss, mentor or co-worker for advice or for a hand in getting something done. Or maybe you find yourself taking too long to complete a task because you’re over-analyzing it. If so, collaborate with a “doer” to help you get to decision and action. Delegate. Pray. Or all of the above.
- Be thankful. It is amazing how remembering to be grateful can positively shift perspective and reduce worry and stress. How might you develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude?
- Stay positive. With bad news, difficult circumstances, Debbie Downers and Doug and Wendy Whiners all around us, focusing intentionally on the good can be like swimming upstream. Get time with positive people. And mix inspirational reading and reflection into your day so your thought life and attitude isn’t governed purely by your intake of news and entertainment.
- Do what’s important. Some of us are addicted to busyness; and it’s easy to get busy with stuff that’s not really important. Clarifying what is important and where we really want to say “yes” makes it easier to say “no” to distractions that just wind up creating more stress.
- Take care of yourself. Find an exercise routine that works for you. Eat well. Get the rest you need. These habits make a huge difference when it comes to increasing your energy and preventing and coping with stress.
Feeling stressed? Try one or two of these antidotes and call me in the morning.
Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. In his work as a consultant and executive coach, he has found that the skills above are not just stress management skills; they are essential leadership skills. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.