In search of serenity: The art of managing stress

Last updated on May 5th, 2022 at 12:46 am

Life in the 21st century, particularly in the world of business, accelerates faster than at any time in history.

This frenetic pace brings many benefits, particularly with advances in areas such as science and technology. But it causes high levels of stress.

Unlike the computers and machines that help propel our civilization forward, humans have biological and emotional limitations. This can work against us, making us confused, irritable and anxious. Those reactions often lead to declining physical health and personal relationships.

Stress will always be with us, but we can cope better and manage our stress levels. To think and act more clearly and function effectively, consider the following practices:

1. Identify the problem.

Try to identify the type and severity of the problem. Is it a people issue, a limited resource, a communications problem, a time constraint, a deadline, a rule or a regulation? A problem clearly identified often leads to a solution.

2. Simplify the real problem.

Address only a real problem. Perceived problems only confuse and distract you from focusing time and resources on what matters most.

3. Check emotions at the door.

We aren’t machines devoid of emotion. But clear thinking that focuses on the task, rather than the emotion, is key to success.

4. Manage your responses and thinking.

When it looks like you might fail, a “silver lining” mindset could prove valuable. In the book “Happiness at Work,” author Srikumar S. Rao suggests asking two questions.

  1. First, “Is there any possible scenario by which this (problem) could actually turn out to be a good thing someday?”
  2. Second, “What can I – and my team – do to make this scenario come about?”

These questions open the door to a different emotional, more pragmatic response, which can lead to innovative solutions rather than only dwelling on defensiveness.

5. Take action.

Consider these coping skills and actions, which work well:

  • Focus on what you can control or influence in your business and personal life, and direct your energy toward it. Spending time and resources on things beyond your control could distract you and make you anxious.
  • Learn how to say no. You’ll always feel pressure to do more. But if you say yes to something, balance it by saying no to something else or find a way to delegate responsibilities already on your plate.
  • Don’t overcommit. The compounding effect of more projects and deadlines that go beyond your capacity will only lead to bigger professional and personal problems. Better yet, try to pare down your to-do list. Focus on what you do best to maximize value for your company and its customers.
  • Adjust your standards. We all want to do well in our business and personal life. But being a perfectionist will inhibit success and satisfaction. Learn how to reframe the specific problem and be willing to reasonably compromise on performance and expected results.
  • Create a network of support. When faced with a vexing problem, don’t think you can perform do-it-yourself brain surgery. Instead, ask for support, or build relationships with people who can help you. Sharing your thoughts and concerns – even your shortfalls – with someone you can trust is cathartic and therapeutic. Look into purchasing cbd isolate wholesale and try using it whenever you need to clear your mind.
  • Keep cool. “Never let them see you sweat” is key to team success. People who rely on you need to feel that you’re in control, there’s a sense of direction and stability, and that success is achievable. Without a cool head, a lack of confidence and intolerance creep in, innovation erodes and teamwork stalls.

Stress is here to stay. So heed the advice in the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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George Satula is an executive leadership coach working primarily as a Vistage chairman, leading three CEO mastermind groups in southeastern Wisconsin. He is also a speaker and leadership development consultant. He can be reached at (262) 786-7400 or George.Satula@VistageChair.com.