Stress is Pervasive at Work
Last week I spoke at the national American Bar Association conference in Toronto about managing stress for lawyers. The consensus among the audience was that a certain amount of stress is motivating and can help you perform and achieve but too much can affect you negatively and lead to job burnout. Job burnout is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, a lowered sense of accomplishment and severely reduced productivity as well as health issues such as anxiety, depression and heart disease.
Stress is caused by both internal and external factors including individual personality characterisitics such as perfectionism, limited self-awareness and workaholic values, workload, time pressures, a lack of control over your work and work relationships.
What’s the answer to managing your stress?
- Remember who you are and stay true to your best qualities and the values that imbue your life with meaning.
- Prioritize, say “no” nicely at times, and work at blending your work and life (I don’t believe that balance exists.)
- Develop and use a time management system that aligns with your personality. For example, if you are spontaneous, then checking your email just three times a day simply won’t work.
- Negotiate your attendance at meetings and stop allowing people to constantly interrupt you.
- Learn to delegate effectively – don’t micro manage and avoid delegating everything.
- Strive to lead a healthy lifestyle. My weaknesses are fried chicken, potato chips and wine. But I exercise regularly, drink tons of water and rarely eat dessert or processed food.
- Create and nurture healthy realtionships inside and outside your company or organization. Stay in touch with your network, make new friends and carve out time with your family.
- Learn how to manage difficult relationships. Difficult people are rarely motivated to behave differently which means you will have to change your behavior so that they will change theirs, or at a minimum so you can tolerate their behavior more easily.
- Use technology to become more efficient and effective, don’t allow technology to abuse you.
- Become more self-aware. Self-awareness is fundamentally important to possess because it enables you to regulate yourself by self-monitoring, observing yourself and changing your thought processes and behavior.
- Change the way you see your stressful situation and seek alternative ways of viewing things. When you are feeling stressed, it is easy to lock yourself into one way of viewing your situation. Remember that you are always in control of your perspective.
- Finally take joy in the small pleasures in life and remind yourself regularly of what is truly important to you.