A lot of factors impact your health. Diet and Exercise are two very important ones. One, that we don’t acknowledge enough is stress normalization. That is when you let stress become a normal part of your life accepting the negative effects as a new normal. It can be just as dangerous as a poor diet or lack of exercise. This article will be a two-part piece. The first part will take the viewpoint of everyone. The second will be for business leaders.
Stress Normalization and the Impact on You!
Stress creeps into our lives early, its sneaky that way. Parents pass it to children, schools enforce it and soon jobs thrive from it. Stress becomes a normal thing along with death, taxes and change. But, that does not mean it is ok!
Stress is a profoundly negative aspect to “modern” lives. We look for miracle diets, new age medicines and other ways to stay young and healthy. The real secret is managing stress and negative emotions. Master those and you could live forever.
In fact stress is not ok, one bit. When we talk about surrounding yourself with the right people, environment, job, etc., we specifically mean to surround yourself with things that do not stress you. Stress is not good, in the same way that getting an injury is not good. It may happen from time to time but that does not make it ok.
Our modern lives tend to accept stress as inevitable and a required right of passage for life and hard times. That is part of the problem, as stress is not inevitable and should be avoided. We need to stand up to stress and make sure we avoid/mitigate it at all costs. Here are some steps you should take right away to reduce stress:
- Identify areas of stress in your life. It may be work, family, friends, even money or budget. That could mean getting a new job, reducing communication with toxic friends or adjusting how you live to reduce financial burdens. Make the changes you need to reduce stress!
- Actively mitigate stress. Sometimes it is not practical to quit your job, or cut off family. You can take steps to mitigate the impact of stress. This could be changing your ringtone for work contacts (alerts and rings can be stress triggers). If work is a stressor, make sure to take time off for breaks with walking or other activity that gets you out of the office. Active mitigation of stress can help reduce its effects, but try to make changes to remove the stress first.
- Take up stress reducing activities. Exercise, mediation, counseling, coaching, mentorship, or just having the right friends and partners. Surrounding yourself with the right people is probably the best step you can take to help reduce stress. It won’t help to get rid of stress, but it will help from letting i build up to much.
Leadership Responsibilities and Stress
Leaders have a unique responsibility of trying to reduce or eliminate stress from employees. By reducing stress, you make employees more productive, more empowered, more happy. All around, less stress means more success for everyone.
There are a lot of theories out there about how successful companies become or stay successful. The theories are great, but the true secret sauce is keeping stress in check. Companies that create truly stress-free cultures are more successful and successful longer.
Leaders have a huge impact on the stress levels for an organization. Poor leaders increase stress which can spread like a cancer. Great leaders actively mitigate stress and are equally great at identifying stress before it takes hold.
It all starts with culture. Being a great leader is simple, in an era that creates a lot of confusion and complexity around great leadership. Just create an intentionally positive culture, sounds simple…because it is.
- Make sure everyone knows why they are on the team. Mission, vision, values, etc., choose your methods and implement. Your goal is to ensure everyone understands their value and leadership can help support that value.
- Give everyone a purpose. Knowing why you are apart of a team is not enough. What is the purpose of each person, what is their goal, what do they contribute…etc. This is creating a growth journey for each person by allowing them to focus on it in context of the company.
- Support, support, support. Leadership’s benefit is not doing or aligning. It is not getting in front of boards and talking about numbers, projections, or whatever. Leadership’s benefit i supporting people. Making them happy, reducing stress, being a beacon of inspiration. The important piece here, reducing stress. That is so critical it is absolutely a critical success factor for any leadership role.
Great leaders are intentional on creating great culture. Great culture fosters inspiration and mitigates stress. It doesn’t do it with force, threat, goal setting, timelines or anything like that. Culture becomes great by allowing people the room to be inspired and protecting them from sabotaging stress.