Q My team faces a lot of stress every day, and I have been able to help keep them on track and feeling OK. The problem is, I am absorbing all of the stress myself, so it's affecting my ability to cope. What can I do?
A Treat yourself kindly, and find others to give you the support you provide to your team.The inner game
To set the stage for reflection, give yourself the gift of an hour in which you won't be disturbed. Close the door, turn off your computer and put away your phone. If you'd like, turn down the lights and put on relaxing music. Now, just breathe. Let the stresses of your job slip away. When thoughts come into your mind, notice them, and let them pass. As you become calmer, savor the feelings of relaxation and being centered. You can bring these feelings into your day with any breath you take.
Think about the ways your life is in balance. Consider the people at work and elsewhere who help sustain you, and the activities you do that give you enjoyment. Are you spending as much time on these as you'd like? And how well are you taking care of yourself in terms of rest, exercise and nutrition?
Now focus on aspects that are out of balance, specifically, the stresses at work. You may be working long hours to help the team or buffering your team from demanding internal clients. Also notice if there are other factors, such as time of day, that tend to be in play when you get most stressed. Then consider, specifically, the ways in which stress is affecting you so you can give yourself the help you need.
Finally, just take a moment to envision success -- a workplace that may still be busy and demanding, but in which the stress is manageable and you and your team feel good about your days.The outer game
Put most of your activity into taking care of yourself in a variety of ways. Thinking about your physical being, tend to your health by avoiding foods that drag down your energy, follow a regular sleep pattern that gives you enough rest, and find a way to move every day. It may be as simple as some stretching or a 10-minute walk.
Plan enough fun in your life, spending time with people you like and doing things you enjoy. It may feel out-of-reach or self-indulgent, but everyone around you will benefit.
Cultivate a set of people you can vent and problem-solve with. Your boss may be a good option, or colleagues at your level in the company. Be sure it's not a one-way street so that they also have a safe place to go.
Plan mitigation strategies for stressful situations. If you know that interactions with a certain team will leave you stressed out, make a de-stress plan. Take some deep breaths, have a 15-minute break scheduled for some fresh air, or a plan to chat with a vent partner if needed.The last word
Making yourself a priority and taking simple steps to manage stress levels will help keep you in balance at work.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, leadership coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.