Personal Effectiveness and Responsibility
Stress/Pressure Management: You Can’t Hurry Quality
Most of the literature about pressure and how to better manage it is concerned with high stress, or the times when individuals feel overloaded, overworked or even overwhelmed. This is natural enough when you consider that the consequences of this kind of pressure are often fairly visible physical or mental impairment, or even direct and severe harm to a person’s health. However, this kind of high stress is only one side of the equation. “Distress” can occur when individuals are under-loaded, under-utilized and under-whelmed, or lacking in the motivation to tackle anything.
In these circumstances the effects may be less visible but just as potentially damaging. The effects may include impaired attention, boredom, confusion and apathy (to name just a few). Therefore, our goal is best expressed as an attempt to find a healthy balance of pressure. This is what experts often call the “eustress zone”. In the “eustress zone” a person feels as much in control as possible, of both themselves and the circumstances evolving around them. If we can do this, we gain the advantage of people being much calmer, focused and capable as well as performing their work and living their overall lives much more successfully.
A key part of any attempt to reduce pressure and stress at work is to slow down. Simply put, if you keep rushing from task to task you may be too busy to ever relax properly. Of course, the very idea of intentionally slowing down probably seems impossible and even overwhelming itself. But there are health-related reasons to re-think a multitasking approach. Not only do you not accomplish as much in the medium to long-term, but the non-stop effort will eventually take a toll on your health. It can negatively affect your sleep, blood pressure, hormones and emotions.
In trying to slow down and rush less there are a few things that might be considered as follows:
- How you start your day sets the mood for the rest of the day so taking time to quietly reflect on the previous day and plan this one is a good idea. Just a few minutes might be all you need here.
- Instead of spending your day juggling tasks, list your “top 5” major priorities and work on them one at a time. If any remain at the end of the day, make that your first priority for the next day.
- Commit less. Learning to say “no” is extremely difficult for many of us but is very much necessary if we want to slow down and decrease pressure in our work life.
- Take time to rest. Take short breaks at least twice a day and get outside for a walk at least once.
We always need to remember that much of our rushing behavior is self-imposed. Just as we are the ones that built up the pressure, it’s as much in our hands to reduce it.
The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Stress/Pressure Management Video Vignette Set.