How to Deal with Stress?
Feeling and functioning better under stress, starts with understanding stress. What stress is, how to recognize it and the secret of how to deal with it.
But let me start with; why stress coaching? The reason is that besides being a trained coach, I am an experience expert. Twenty years in corporate sales thought me what stress is. A burnout about 7 years ago, thought me how not to deal with it.
The good news is, that I came through it, now know how to deal with it, and am able to help others with this knowledge. I do that by means of presentations, workshops and of course life coaching.
What is stress?
Stress is a mental and physical response to an event, that comes in three forms:
- Incidental stress
- Overspannenheid (No English word for this, sorry)
Stress that occurs now and then, followed by periods of recuperation and rest, is called incidental stress. Your body, mind and energy levels can deal with this fairly good without too much strain.
Overspannenheid is a continuous period of chronical stress. It leads up to a feeling of not being able to rest anymore and of not being able to function. Overspannenheid also leads to mental and physical complaints. Your battery is almost, but not completely empty. And that is the good news, you still have energy to make a change and recover, worse can be prevented.
Burnout is the result of completely ignoring the symptoms of overspannenheid. It will lead to a complete and utter exhaustion, both mental and physical. You will wake up, not knowing how to get out of bed or how to get through your day. Your battery is completely empty, and you need to recharge first, before you can recover.
It all sounds serious, but how big is the problem?
There are a lot of studies being done into this subject, The numbers differ, but the message is generally the same. All studies state that a large part of the workforce in the Netherlands is suffering from stress and stress related issues.
Concerning burnout the numbers a bit more clear, because these people don’t show up for work, so they get easier noticed. In certain age groups the number goes as high as 17% of the workforce suffering of burnout related issues. Those are serious numbers.
If the difference between recovering from overspannenheid and ending up with a burnout, is listening to the symptoms, how do you recognize them?
If your mind is ignoring the facts, learn to listen to your body. Your body will always show when there is stress. Indicators of that are for instance a higher breathing, tension in your body or sweating. Of course, by themselves, these can just as well mean that you are falling in love, and therefore no reason to be alarmed, but when combined for instance with a deep and utter feeling of mental and physical fatigue, highly irritable behaviour or sleep disorders, to name just a few of the easy noticeable ones, they can and should be reason for alarm.
I call these mental and physical signals the “early warning system” and as a coach I teach people how to listen to them. In fact this “early warning system” is the strongest tool you have to prevent stress to turn from bad to worse.
How do you prevent or deal with stress?
Stress is an imbalance between (work)stress-load and your (perceived) ability to deal with it. So the secret lays in working on these two parts of the equation by:
- Either reduce the pressure or increase your stress resilience!
As promised, I have practical tips in line with this that will help you deal with work related stress.
1. Do not try to do everything yourself
Being an entrepreneur, you are eager to do it all yourself. Don’t! Ask yourself what is your business, and how you best add value to that. Focus on what gives you energy and leave the rest to external experts. This will not only free up time for things that will give you energy, but most likely your business will improve too.
2. Make sure your goals are realistic
Many starting entrepreneurs write unrealistic business plans with sky high goals. Unrealistic goals are a sure source of stress and failing businesses. So plan realistic. But keep in mind, planning your daily activities should be realistically too.
3. Take good care of yourself
Eat healthy! Research has shown that there is a clear connection between eating and stress.
Exercise! This has to do with the build-up of the so called stress hormones, like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol in your body, which can be lowered by exercise.
Commit to charging as you do to working! Take breaks, real breaks! Without emails or social media. And that goes twice for vacations.
A lot of work related stress has its origin in uncertainty.
“What does this colleague really means to say? Does my manager think that I am not doing a good job? How should I do a better job at this? What does he/she think of me? Is that client satisfied?”
The only way to know what is really happening, is to ask! So prevent unnecessary stress, ASK!
5. If all else fails
Well, then it is time for professional help. Don’t keep struggling, find help to deal with it.
Be honest with yourself. Listen to your body, learn to read the signs. If you find that difficult, there are all kinds of books and otherwise this coach, that can help you to connect what is below your neck to what’s above.
I am Rob Lacroix and stress coach at ExpatCoachingCompany.nl, and I can help you feel and function better under stress. Want to get in touch? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look me up on LinkedIn.
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