Often the key to reducing stress is to mitigate stressors by changing the way we feel about them. In many ways, it is a cost-benefit analysis. Is the end result worth the chaos?
For the next eight weeks, I’ll be running my very own stress management in chaos experiment.
The chaos is the result of a construction project happening 20 feet from my office door. My office is located in our home, upstairs next to the master bedroom. Yesterday, an incredible team demolished the master bathroom in preparation for our remodeling project.
In the scheme of all things, eight weeks of noise and people working 20 feet from my office door isn’t a crisis. It is inconvenient. However, I can already tell the distraction factor is going to be large.
However, the inconvenience and interruptions are far outweighed by the excitement about the renovation.
The cost of the distraction from marketing and the work to land and prepare for speaking engagements is worth having a functional and beautiful new bathroom.
This cost-benefit analysis is helpful during change and periods of high stress. For example, in the retail “busy season” long hours and demanding customers are offset by the majority of profit for the year. For people facing surgery, the promise of improved function and quality of life offsets the uncertainty and pain.
It can be hard, in the moment, to remember the end goal. Keeping the focus on the benefits lowers the stress of the experience. Reminders of the importance of the end goal and celebrating the progress towards the goal are great ways to reduce stress.
How do you work in chaos? What do you do to keep the focus on the benefits of the end goal?
Thanks to the great people at Paul Davis for their friendly, clean, and professional work.
Recently Eliz keynoted the Biz Times Wellness Summit and facilitated roundtable discussions about “What’s Missing In Your Wellness Program” with HR professionals, CEOs, and wellness providers. These discussions resulted in insights on challenges facing employers and best practices beneficial to anyone managing an employee wellness program.
One of the themes of the Summit was mental health and addiction. This theme carried through to the roundtable discussion as we addressed how to overcome stigma to supply mental health resources. Two insights in this area include:
Many of the companies attending the summit struggle with engaging more than 30 to 40 percent of their employees in their wellness programs. Three insights from the roundtables include:
As Eliz’s keynote demonstrated, often the largest source of stress is the work environment. Offering yoga at lunch or access to cooking classes can’t address this problem. Best practices from the group for addressing negative work environments include:
Undergoing change often creates stress in a work environment. Addressing the change head-on is often essential before progress on wellness initiatives can be made. Insights from the roundtables include:
Many of the attendees came from smaller organizations searching for ways to integrate a wellness program. Best practices included:
The Biz Times Wellness Summit Roundtables were a wealth of wisdom and lively conversation. For more information on Eliz Greene’s Employee Wellness programs and Job Stress Research visit www.ElizGreene.com/Wellness/
Recently my husband and I spent a glorious ten days on vacation in Mexico in celebration of his 50th birthday. We traveled with five other adults to a resort which caters to scuba divers. I don’t dive, but Clay is enthusiastic about the sport, as were our fellow travelers. This led to some interesting insight on stress and relaxation.
When not diving, most of our group spent time lounging by the pool, with the iguanas (yes, actual iguanas). Being fair skinned, I spent some enjoyable time by the pool, in the shade, reading. I did not, however, have the staying power of the rest of the group. I needed something else. My husband, Clay, enjoyed being an iguana for a while, then also needed to DO something. We took out the little sailboat, went for walks — coming and going from the pool. One of our fellow travelers remarked,
“You are always on the go. When are you going to relax?”
Here’s the thing — we were relaxing.
Clay joked at dinner one evening,
“I’m like a border collie. If I don’t have something to do, I start chewing on things.”
Funny and true, it is a good description of how he relaxes. He needs something diverting him from thinking about the things which cause stress. Staying still provides too much time to think.
Are you and iguana, a border collie, or something else?
In the article, written by Jenn Chapman, Eliz shares the story of surviving a heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins and he mission to inspire women to pay attention to their heart health and manage stress.
“What’s really interesting and alarming is that 7 out of 10 people report they are highly stressed at work. Stress is a fascinating chemical reaction in our body , which makes our blood pressure, and heart rate goes up. Blood actually gets stickier which is good for survival. We need that burst of energy to deal with crisis but eventually when that crisis pass we are supposed to be able to recover, but because we live at this high stress all the time we don’t have time to recover and the cortisol level builds and builds,” Eliz says.
“I am often asked to present on work-life balance and yet if I’m honest with myself I am constantly figuring that out. I don’t think I’m alone. The idea that work and life are supposed to balance each other out doesn’t work because they don’t happen separately,” she shares.
“It’s not that we can’t manage our homes it’s just all blended together. We can do things to clarify priorities and protect time to recover from stress, but it take a cultural change to make a real difference. I think that is possible,” Eliz says.
So when that work email pops up on your phone when you’re at home watching TV with the kids, whether you respond to it or not, your mind will begin processing the message. Ultimately taking away the divider from home and work life and thus the stress rises.
One of the most common effects of stress is added weight around the mid section. The most efficient way to process cortisol out of the body is to sleep but studies show that very few women get enough sleep. And so the cycle of busy and stress continues.
“We eat away at the margins of the day to get stuff done. But yet sleep is the most efficient way to get rid of our stress. We have to be working not just for our family but also for our quality of life that makes it worth it. If we work so much we don’t see our families, we missed it,” says Eliz.
Women’s stress increases when we are in contact with other people who are stressed. It seems both sides of the aisle are stressed these days. The non-stop social media postings of overwhelm and doom can spiral into a feeling of despair. This downward spiral, which I call “awfulizing,” keeps the focus on the negative and stops us from seeing opportunities for improvement.
Regardless of their place on the political spectrum, professional women may find themselves, and their hearts, in danger due to stress around Inauguration Day. A previous post about election stress, revealed the unprecedented level of turmoil in the 2016 presidential race combined with already high job stress levels were a recipe for disaster. While the election is over, the turmoil seems to have increased, intensifying stress and increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
So, be kind to your heart and let’s deal with the stress of Inauguration Day.
Facebook algorithms are built to show you more of what you click. It is easy to be pulled into a spiral of dire predictions and raw emotion. Set a timer, limit your number of clicks, avoid reading comments, or devise some other way to manage your contact with stressful posts and articles.
Our country isn’t going to implode on January 20th, nor will all of our problems be magically solved. It is one day. One ceremony. Yes, our country is deeply divided. Yes, we have work to do. It won’t all happen in one day. We all need to move forward and do the best we can.
One of my favorite quotes is from Diversity Expert Jess Pettitt
Doing the best you can with what you have is better than doing nothing.”
Her point revolves around choosing to use your strengths and opportunities now rather than waiting for the right leader, right time, or right frame of mind. This lesson has been instrumental in my own stress management. Rather than complaining on Facebook, I’m picking up the phone and getting to know my elected officials (local, state, and national — those I voted for and those I didn’t). Jess is right, doing something is better than doing nothing. By recognizing stress and taking an action, it is possible to release some of the tension.
As January 20th comes and goes, keep in mind we are all part of the process. You Are Good Enough Now. Do something and reduce your stress.
P.S. Jess’ book Good Enough Now is a fantastic guide to getting over being terrified of messing up and get into action. Check out the video below and order your copy NOW here: www.GoodEnoughNowBook.com