Our guest blogger this week is Sharone Bar-David, who shares her wonderful tool to help us take care of stress.
The year is coming to an end, the holidays are fast approaching and chances are that you are feeling a tad stressed. And I’m not talking about that ‘good stress’ (or Eustress, in its fancier name). That’s the type of stress that makes you feel energized, alive, excited and vibrant. It injects life with spice and puts a spring in your step.
What you might be experiencing is the not-so-good stress — the bad stress that diminishes your resources and transports you to the land of undesirable thoughts, feelings and behaviours. To help get yourself out of this predicament, here’s a simple tool you can use when you find yourself acting on the stress that you’re experiencing. I call it the S-O-S method – Stop, Observe and Shift.
Step 1 – STOP: When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by stress, this step requires you to heed the warning signs and STOP (it’s not easy to stop or even pause in the midst of tidal wave, is it). Warning signs can include a persistent inner tension, or a sense of being on an out-of-control roller-coaster. You might be experiencing physiological stress symptoms, anxiety or depression, withdrawal or an overall decline in performance. You might be curt with others or behaving in other uncivil ways. All this tells you that it’s time to pause and reflect on what’s going on before the situation becomes unmanageable.
Step 2 – OBSERVE: Here you take an honest, hard look at reality. Ask yourself tough questions, such as: what’s actually happening to me and around me? What specifically is troubling me? How am I acting when I’m stressed and how is this affecting my life, health, work and relationships? Am I endangering anyone? (there’s some research that indicates that fetuses can be affected by mother’s stress). And – am I still the person that I strive to be? If I do nothing, where will I be a year from now?
Step 3 – SHIFT: Once you’ve observed and gained insight into the situation, it’s time to Shift. Some shifts require a change in circumstances. If necessary, you might need to make dramatic changes that require courage and significant risk-taking (such as changing careers or ending a relationship). Other times, a small but meaningful shift (or even a mini-vacation) is all it takes.
Sometimes the shift requires work on internal rather than external changes. Regaining your balance is often a matter of recalibrating your thoughts and feelings. For example, you might discover that you need to accept and even embrace certain things (and people) rather than expecting them to change. This internal shift will liberate you from the constant obsessing over stressors over which you have little control.
Sharone Bar-David is president of Bar-David Consulting, a firm dedicated to creating civil work environments and coaching abrasive leaders and the author of the upcoming book, Trust Your Canary! Every Leader’s Guide to Taming Workplace Incivility. Contact Sharone at email@example.com and/or visit her website at www.sharonebardavid.com.
While we are on the topic of stress listen to this 2 Minute Tip to learn how to take effective leisure time.