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When the Stress is High ... Slow Things Down!


We all go through periods of time when the stress levels are a little more than normal … sometimes things are so tense that they really test your limits!

If you live life to the full then you are continually making commitments in both your personal and your professional lives (which are invariably intertwined) and every now and then you find yourself stretched beyond your comfort zone.

You might even be trying to live a complex life in the middle of a pandemic!

When you find yourself in that position you really need;

a.  A stress management plan; and

b.  Good time management skills!

It is your time management skills that will help you to take control … identifying everything that needs done, prioritising the work, delegating wherever possible, assigning deadlines and creating a series of tasks to accomplish all of those projects.  Once you have that plan in place and start to knock off the tasks you will invariably feel better.

Before you get to that point it is likely that your brain will go into overdrive, you will feel out of control, you will lose sleep and be short tempered … and that is when you need to manage that stress.

We are all a little different, but there are some basic principles that you can apply;

1. Breathe!  You need to pay attention to your body, and if you do you will notice your heart rate is up, you are having trouble focusing on any one thing and your breathing is quite shallow.  Its the same kind of feeling (maybe a little less intense) that you get when you step into a boxing ring for your first fight in front of an audience.  You have to physically slow things down, breathe deeply, take charge of your mind and focus on the task at hand … if you are in a boxing ring its pretty clear what that is!

2. Look after yourself.  It is important that you don’t succumb to the natural tendencies of eating and drinking to excess, cutting back on sleep and not exercising!  All of that is the exact opposite to what will help you!  Take time to work out and get those endorphins flowing through your body.  Eat a healthy diet, don’t overdo the alcohol and get your full night’s sleep!  Looking after the body will always help the mind!

3. Don’t take it out on those around you!  Your temper will be shorter than normal and as long as you recognise that then you can control your reactions appropriately … remember the old adage, “engage brain before opening mouth”!  You will need to be just a beat slower in what you say, to avoid the inevitable “foot in mouth” syndrome.

“Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.” Robert Eliot

If you can manage to do all of the above, without it being obvious to people that you are under extreme stress, then you will be mastering techniques used by great leaders everywhere.  Not a bad skill set to cultivate!