Stress Can Increase or Decrease Productivity
Stress can be a good thing. In physical exercise, the right amount of stress builds muscle tone. In the workplace, the right amount of stress is a motivator, and gives everyone the push they need to meet project schedules. But when there is too much stress or the wrong kind of stress, muscles, productivity and teamwork can all suffer.
The Negative Effects of Stress
Productivity requires energy, focused effort, efficiency and effectiveness. When you're stressed out, your productivity drops. But it's not just productivity that drops - so does physical and mental health. Chronic stress takes its toll on individuals and teams every day, and the costs are high.
The Physiological Effects of Stress
Stress is an internalized process that causes the sympathetic nervous system to mobilize, creating physiological changes in the body. These physiological changes can include increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid and shallow breathing, increased muscle tension, interruption of the digestive process, and the release of adrenaline and glucose into the bloodstream.
Over extended periods of time, chronic stress can result in headaches, back pain, ulcers, digestive problems, fatigue, insomnia and a host of other physical problems. The obvious results are significant reductions in health, well-being and productivity, as well as significant increases in healthcare costs and performance-related problems.
The Psychological Effects of Stress
The psychological effects of chronic stress include procrastination, avoidance, withdrawal, depression, hyperactivity, aggression, relationship problems, excessive eating/drinking/smoking and drug abuse. These symptoms can be treated with drugs, but with effective stress management they can be prevented.
Avoiding the High Cost of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is harmful to individuals, teams and organizations. If you can see the effects of stress in your team, don't wait for productivity to decrease. Be proactive and schedule a stress management workshop.
Our training programs are practical and effective. Whether you bring us in to conduct a one-day stress management workshop or a comprehensive program including small group and one-on-one coaching, we can make a difference. Contact us today for more information.
External & Internal Sources of Stress
When asked to identify the sources of their stress, most people are quick to list external sources such as difficult people, heavy workloads and tight deadlines. But often the primary sources of stress are internal rather than external.
Two people can be working in the same job, with the same people, the same workloads and the same deadlines, yet one is stressed out and the other isn't. The one who is stressed out has internal sources of stress that aren't being effectively managed.
Managing the Sources of Stress
Every manager and employee must become an effective stress manager in order to avoid the negative effects of stress. Stress management is about managing both the external sources of stress and the internal sources of stress. Both are important and neither can be neglected in stress management training or practice. In our Stress Management Workshops we give equal attention to managing the external and the internal sources of stress.
Managing the External Sources of Stress
If your stress comes from external sources like difficult people, heavy workloads and tight deadlines, you need to develop the skills to manage those sources. You need better skills in working effectively with difficult people, and time management skills for managing your work. If your stress comes from interruptions, fire-fighting and a chaotic work environment, you need to learn the skills to manage these situations as they come up, and you need better processes to prevent some of them from occurring. Sometimes the whole team needs to learn better ways of managing the external sources of stress by preventing fires rather than continually fighting fires.
Because the external sources of stress are different in every organization, we customize our stress management workshops to focus on the external sources of your team's stress. Our training programs provide practical training in uncovering the real external sources of stress, and in managing them through tools, processes and skilled behaviors.
Managing the Internal Sources of Stress
Often, the internal sources of stress are causes of burnout, mental pressure and low productivity. Some people handle stress well, and others dwell on the problems and focus on what should be rather then on managing what is. The internal sources of stress all reside within your mind. When you are unable to reconcile your external circumstances (what is), you tend to create unnecessary internal stress for yourself - and often your behavior creates unnecessary external stress for others as well.
Our stress management training workshops help participants to understand how they create internal stress and how they can be more effective in preventing and managing that stress. The internal sources of stress often result in complaining, resistance, negative attitudes, frustration, resentment and a loss of motivation. Our stress management training teaches participants how to detect the symptoms of stress and how to understand, manage and eliminate them.
Reactive Framing of Difficult People & Situations
Negative reactions to day-to-day problems and irritations create a frame of reference that colors your perception. Internal stress is created when this negative frame of reference becomes your filter for looking at your life, your family, your relationships, your job, your boss and your co-workers. In our stress management training programs we look at how reactive frames are consciously and unconsciously created, and we help participants to step back and examine the way they approach difficult situations, and to look at these situations from a new perspective. We look at how you react to change, disappointment and problems; how your negative frames are reinforced; and how to break the cycle.
Learning to Reframe Your Stressful Reactions
Reframing difficult situations is a cognitive process that anyone can do if they have the skills and the tools. We build those skills and provide those tools in our stress management workshops. You can learn to reframe your relationship with your manager and with "difficult" co-workers. You can reframe your outlook about your job and your career. You can reframe your perspective on life. The reframing process helps you to appreciate what you have been taking for granted, and to see possibilities and opportunities where you previously only saw problems.
Would Seeing a Rattlesnake Under Your Desk Cause You Stress?
For most people, it definitely would. One look at that snake and the fight-or-flight response would instantly mobilize you to action.
Your sympathetic nervous system would provide support by increasing your heart and breathing rate, sending more oxygen into your blood and pumping it faster. Adrenaline would pour into your bloodstream, your muscles would tense, your digestion would stop and glucose would be released into your blood (so that if you're injured, your blood will clot faster).
False Alarm: It Was Just a Piece of Rope
But when you look again you realize it wasn't a rattlesnake after all; it was only a piece of rope. Whew! What a relief! Now your parasympathetic nervous system's job is to calm you down and take you to a state of relaxation; the danger is gone. But here's the question: Did the rope cause the stress?
A Rattlesnake, a Two-Legged Snake or a Piece of Rope
As far as your nervous system is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you just had an encounter with a rattlesnake, a two-legged snake or a piece of rope. If you perceive it as a problem, your perception will mobilize your nervous system for action. Day after day you encounter stressful situations, but the source of your stress isn't really external.
The Source of the Stress is Internal
The source of the stress is within your perception. It's in the way you frame the situation. This phenomenon is known as "reactive framing." You react to the external event, and your unconscious mind immediately frames the situation. Then your thoughts and actions operate from that frame of reference. And the more you think about that two-legged snake, the more your stress levels will go up.
Reframing Your Stress
In our stress management workshops we provide you with the tools you need to reframe the stressful situations in your life. That difficult co-worker who causes your stress isn't really causing your stress. The cause is you - through your reactive frame of reference. By reframing the situation, you can learn to use a new set of tools to see the problem as an opportunity, and then to change your relationship with that co-worker.
Our stress management tools work. Contact us for a quote on a stress management workshop for your team.
If you want to give yourself and your team an attitude adjustment, you can bring in a motivational speaker and have a rah-rah meeting; but if you're not careful, you may create more negativity and resentment in the process. If employees are looking at their jobs through a cynical frame, even your well-meaning efforts to motivate will make you look like the Marketing Manager in the Dilbert cartoons.
So what can you do? Teach your team members how to manage stress and how to master the art of cognitive reframing.
Stress Management & Self-Management
As in all stress management training programs, we teach people techniques for calming down and doing a reset when they get stressed out. We offer a variety of stress-relieving tools. But our primary focus is on preventing stress, by effectively managing the external and internal sources of stress. Really, what we are focusing on is self-management.
The best stress managers are self-managers who know how to enjoy their life and their work and not let the little things get to them. Self-Management is one of the four foundational elements of Emotional Intelligence (along with Self-Awareness, Social Awareness and Relationship Management). For information about our Emotional Intelligence training programs, please visit our Emotional Intelligence Workshops website.
Ownership vs. Victimhood
Ultimately, effective stress management is about taking ownership of your thoughts, your emotions, your attitude, and all aspects of your life.
When chronic stress does its number on you, you become the victim of stress. But since the real sources of stress are within yourself, you are both the victim and the victimizer. Complaining may feel good because it's a way to vent. But in the process of complaining, you are usually operating from a victim frame. Complaining is a natural form of expression when you frame others as the perpetrators of your stress, and you frame yourself as an innocent victim. But when you live in the victim frame, you lose your personal power, and stress is given the freedom to bring you down.
In our stress management seminars and workshops we train people to make the transition from victimhood by taking ownership of every stressful situation. You might not have created the situation, but you're in it, so you might as well own it. When you take ownership, it's much easier to reframe the problem as an opportunity and to take positive steps forward.
Maybe You Should Start with Your Management Team
What kind of role models are your managers? Are they models of effective stress management, people skills, positive attitude, motivation and ownership? If not, let's start with a management training program that teaches them how to manage stress and how to coach their team members effectively.
Don't make the mistake of scheduling your employees for stress management training when the managers are absent. The first thought your employees will have is, "My manager needs this more than me! Why isn't she/he here?" Your management team needs to lead the charge. Schedule a management training workshop followed by an all-employees stress management workshop that includes managers and supervisors.
Our workshops include workbooks and training materials that your managers and supervisors can use to hold their own follow-up meetings to ensure maximum effectiveness of the program.
Stress Management Training for Your Team and Your Entire Organization
When is the right time to schedule a stress management workshop? Contact us today and take a giant step toward ownership of the stress problem. Let's make this an opportunity for raising the level of teamwork, motivation and productivity for your entire organization.