A mountain of work – reducing stress in the office
I have had more than usual enquiries this week about stress in the workplace and what to do about it. I guess this will be partly due to children going to school for the first time and others returning to different teachers and classes, so the anxiety levels in many households will be more than normal because there are more new situations and worries to deal with.
There is much written about the stress response, its physical and emotional content,what it is and how to counter it via breathing techniques and or meditation but in this article I am going to concentrate on the part communication plays in getting a solution actioned.
The way we respond to stress has its roots in learnt behaviour. We are not born with stress as such but with the capacity to develop anxiety, fear, overthinking or anger – all parts of the stress cycle – responses related to the threat of what ‘might’ happen.
When you were a child the most important gift you could have received was security. Growing up in a stable world is undervalued, especially now where we believe continually stimulus and excitement is the way forward. When you are little, too much stimulus rattles your insides and will actually stop you from thinking properly as you can’t settle to anything.There is too little time for you to discover who you are before what you can do.
Children need predictability so that they know when they act in a certain way their parent/s/carer will respond in the same way as they did yesterday. He needs comfort when upset and support when challenged. If this isn’t there he or she will find another mechanism, maybe deciding not to cry but to be angry or run away or to never attempt new experiences. They may also try too many new experiences and never get to feel the thrill of mastery. They also may never have learnt to say yes or no in a balanced way, so fear of being suffocated by other peoples needs and not asking for comfort for their own, they remain distant and cut themselves off from loving support. In essence they do not learn about themselves as human beings but rather as human doings.
As you can see, in the modern world with all its demands, it has become more difficult to give our children the foundations and solid centre which will underpin their growing up and we ourselves are less able to understand real emotional intelligence and how spoken communication is the key to harmonious relationships and successful outcomes. Because we have little time for reflection, we allow ourslves to be driven rather than to be the drivers. Our thought processes are over analytical – a typical anxiety response- which keeps us from sorting out the real problem particularly as we can imagine everyone elses life is just perfect.
So, if you had less predictability – your parents may have had unpredictable moods for example - as a child, then as an adult you will aim to set this situation up over and over again – have a look round you and see whether you choose moody friends or over please moody work colleagues. You may try to over cater by finding out what’s wrong and keep on asking until the other person flares up or, make attempts to change your behaviour and always be nice and accomodating so that you don’t trigger the other person’s mood change. This is impossible, if they are moody they have either learnt not to speak about their feelings or they have learnt to blame others for the way they feel rather than find the solution. Not every one elses problem, mood, behaviour, outburst is caused by you.
Another way people try to cope with stress is to increase their activity level. Daft isn’t it – you already have too much so you take on more – and too much will keep you off centre and out of balance and you may start to drink more to try to quieten your system but actually you are pouring petrol on your inner fire and soon there will be combustion. Its also usual to see overactivity when there is an underlying feeling or problem which is not being solved. Maybe you have a relationship that needs attention but you will find other jobs/tasks/ to distract you from a solution or comfort for your feelings. Be aware if you do this that you may end up exhausted, get headaches or illnesses which then will enforce you to have quiet time – its better to get your life balanced upfront. It’s often this kind of cycle which means companies get quite a high sickness rate.
As a child, you have very little power to change your world, you have to go along with it. You might cry for example or get cross or go quiet. If you have not fully learnt how to communicate as an adult what you want to convey to other people and what you would like from them, you will still use these demonstrations of behaviour or emotion even as a grown up, in an attempt to solve your problem. But, if you use the same old behaviour you get the same old result. These are habits and habits can be changed and then your belief system will have to change and of course you run the risk then of being happy!.
So, if you are overloaded at work and can’t say no to your manager or colleagues because you never learnt how to say yes and no in a balanced way, are scared of what you imagine other people might think, you might get the sack, won’t get asked to the Christmas Party, then there are several things you can do.
Firstly, see whether you can get yourself on a course in communication skills. This could be anything from negotiation, assertiveness or dealing with difficult people.
You could mention to your boss that you want to learn to manage your workload better rather than say you are stressed and what to go on a stress management course. Learning about communication skills will give you insight into your own and other peoples behaviours,and teach you actions which will be more beneficial to you as an in both personal and work relationships; in essence you will become more powerful and have more control over problem solving than if you continue to use the systems you learnt as a young child.
Growing up is joyful. It means you can choose ‘ response ‘ ability rather than feel encumbered by the dreaded responsibility. You have the capacity to respond well in various situations without becoming off balance, you can demonstrate a passion for life and you can also understand the differences in peoples’ behaviour without making a value judgement on their character. It means you can ask for and refuse requests, receive and give criticism, deliver and accept consequences, say yes and no without crumbling. You can make critiqued choices rather than random decisions.
You can learnhow to be WE instead of YOU or ME , the relationship dynamic and philosophy which underpins successful families and teams. It’s the give and take, with as many win/ win situations as possible which reduce the overwhelming feelings and then we can set out to put on clear thinking hats and get the job done and the life lived to the best we can.
This is all done with dialogue and conversation followed with explicit plans for aims, goals and expectations of each other/family or team; these need to be clear and well defined with a commitment to action allocated to each pers0n involved. If someone will not discuss a situation with you, make plans or commit, or will blame only you without insight into their behaviour and a willingness to change themselves, you will not get a resolution so you may decide that it’s time to go rather than frighten yourself into staying because you fear you won’t get another job.
So first off , get yourself on a course and start making some small changes. Say yes to happy events and say no to one request in the coming week. Start climbing your mountain, the view is awesome from the top.
If you want to make a move but think you are trapped in your present situation, we can offer you help in making your decisons. Our coaching sessions are available by Skype, telephone or in person.email email@example.com