With so many demands on our time these days, it's difficult for employees to avoid stress. Unhealthy reactions to stress can include burnout, trouble sleeping, and depression. But some stress is normal, and can even be useful.
Stress is useful? It sounds counterintuitive, but it may be true. After all, recent research shows that stress can have a whole host of positive effects on our bodies. What matters, per these studies, is how we approach stress, with those adopting a "stress-is-enhancing" mindset reporting better health, greater life satisfaction, and superior work performance when compared to those who see stress as a bad thing. 1
You can help employees learn to have a more adaptive mindset, enabling them to view stress as an opportunity to learn vs. as a roadblock.
Here are some simple resilience-building strategies to share:
- Manage your time. Check your calendar. Find activities that you can cut back on or delegate to someone else. Determine which things are most important and do those first. Build in extra time for things that you can't control, like traffic jams or sick children.
- Gain perspective. Worrying about what-ifs and worst-case scenarios can send your stress level soaring. Practicing mindful self-awareness can help you stay focused on the present and look at life from a more positive point of view.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Don't smoke. Limit alcohol, sugar and caffeine intake.
- Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to relieve mental and physical tension. Aim for at least 20 minutes several times a week. If you're not up for a vigorous workout, choose an activity that you enjoy, like walking or working in your garden. Virtually any form of exercise can help reduce stress.
- Laugh. Laughter is a great form of stress release. Spend time with friends who make you laugh, enjoy a funny movie, share a good joke. Notice how you feel after a good, hearty laugh.
- Get enough sleep. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Quality sleep can protect your mental health and physical well-being.
- Reach out. People with a strong network of family and friends manage stress better. Talk with them about your needs and concerns. Ask for help.
- Do something fun. Take pleasure in doing simple things like reading, gardening crafts, or music. Activities you enjoy can help you recharge.
- Relax. Massage, yoga, or practicing a relaxation technique like 1-2 minutes of deep breathing can reduce everyday stress and leave your body relaxed, calm, and focused.
1"How You Can Benefit from All Your Stress," Harvard Business Review, March 14, 2013