Work-related stress is at an all-time high and progressing steadily. It has been estimated that 75-90% of patient visits to primary care practitioners are due to stress-related illness.* Stress and busy have become synonymous; while being touted as a badge of honor.
We have become a society that is always connected to technology, never taking a break for fear of missing out on something (FOMO anyone?). We have businesses to build, sales to make any connections to create. Who has time to stop and relax? The ironic part is that without the rest, our best efforts are ineffectual.
Stress causes fatigue, sleeplessness or over-sleeping, feelings of lethargy and depression, weight gain, headaches, muscle pain, digestive issues, low libido, increasing symptoms of PMS and menopause, irritability, poor skin and tissue health, hormone imbalance, chronic sickness, and the list goes on and on.
So if a person is suffering from these symptoms and has an inability to manage stress, how effective can they be in their daily work? We simply can’t do the great work we are passionate about when we feel terrible every single day. The question then becomes, how do we manage stress and prevent ourselves from burnout so that we can continue to build business and increase success?
Here are five strategies that will get you on the right track:
- Have a plan
Most people that struggle with feelings of overwhelm and stress don’t necessarily have a plan of action on how they will tackle the day. We may stroll into the office and get sucked into the email matrix for hours on end, responding to email, sending email, reading more email, responding and sending a bit more. Instead of doing the deep work that moves the needle in their business, we become daily email managers.
When working without a plan of action, it’s easy at the end of the day to wonder what in the world we accomplished. The best sales reps have a distinct plan each day. They know who they are talking to and the purpose of the conversation. There are outcomes from each activity that lead to achieving goals. To manage your day, use these tips to create a plan that will have you working with purpose.
- Work with intention
- Use a calendar or planner to stay on target for the day, week, month, and year
- Work with an objective in mind
- Plan each quarter backward from your goals.
- Prioritize your to-do list
It’s very easy (and normal) to brain dump all of the things we need to do each day and week on a list and hope for the best when it comes to accomplishing the tasks we listed. When the list is arbitrary and without focus, it’s hard to feel productive and easy to feel pressured. In order to conquer the overwhelm, start with three tasks on the list that you feel will push your business and success forward, rather than simply “busy work”. Getting caught in the paperwork matrix distracts us from the deep work that generates revenue. While I could organize my desk over and over or arrange files and pens (ROYGBIV is how I roll), it doesn’t replace the activity of actually getting on the phone to talk to prospects or creating content for my programs. After I prioritize my to-do list, I use these prompts to move forward:
- How much time is needed (realistically) to complete the task?
- Add the task with the given time to my daily schedule to make sure that I have the dedicated time per task.
- Focus on one task at a time (no multitasking) to maximize my attention and effort. The best work comes when the distractions are minimal.
As a first-born, I have held onto my responsibilities in a very serious way. Because let’s be honest, nobody can do things the way I can do them. I take pride in my work, I am very detailed and thorough. It just never occurred to me that someone else could help ease my burden. At the same time, I have felt resentful that I am doing all of the work. While in college, being assigned to a group was a nightmare for me. I loved being in charge and I took on way too much because I couldn’t leave my grade in the hands of a stranger.
Then I would be stressed out because I had so much to do. Change the scenario to marriage & family. I relish the systems I have in place and border insanity if someone in my family veers off from the way I do things. I want my kids to put the clean sheets on their beds yet when the bed covers aren’t as taught as I like them, I have to fight the urge to re-make the bed! Friends, if you are nodding your head right now in understanding, here is some sage advice. STOP IT. Seriously, save yourself from unnecessary anguish. There are people who love you and want to see you succeed; they want to help you in any way they can. Let them help and feel the burden of your tasks lighten.
- Ask for help (and let out a sigh of relief)
- Work to your strengths- these are things you should hang on to! This is your voice and your addition to your work
- Pass things on which don’t require you personally to be accomplished-these are things that aren’t necessarily your strengths and can be better handled by someone else.
- Manage your health
This is the part that most business people push to the back burner, especially if you are pretty healthy, to begin with. When we get busy and put our heads down in our work, the last thing we think about is how much exercise we can get in and how many whole food meals we can consume. Yet, this is the part of our life that we should take the MOST serious. I have seen way too many executives that are on the verge of burnout because health has just not been the priority. Success is on the rise, so we continue to push harder towards greater success. Or maybe the numbers are not in alignment with the goals, so we drive ourselves to do more.
We start work earlier and stop later. We start losing sleep, become dependent on caffeine and sugar to keep ourselves awake, eat food on the go and at our desk or in our cars. It doesn’t take long to feel the energy drain and the chronic fatigue to kick into high gear. What you may not be considering when you tell your health to please hold, is that your health is what drives success. If you feel terrible, you can’t possibly do quality work. You don’t think clearly, you don’t have the extra drive to give when it matters, you miss details, you aren’t prepared or organized. You allow the competitor to have an edge because you are not at your best. To prevent the burnout, health must take priority. The good news is that wellness doesn’t have to be complicated:
- Plan exercise at least three times a week (do anything you enjoy)
- Plan your meals ahead of time-minimize sugar and processed foods
- Sleep at least 8 hours a night
- Schedule your wellness exams each year
- Write in a gratitude journal each day, highlight things from your day that you are thankful for or which brought you joy.
- Rest and Restore
Rest is necessary to recover and revitalize. Planning rest time is just as important as planning your time to prospect. Make time in your calendar each week to do absolutely nothing that resembles “work”. How each of us experiences rest will differ so try out new things and see how you feel. Some people love tackling home projects while others like to be outdoors to experience nature. Try these on for size to recover during your week:
- Read a book
- Work on your hobby
- Take a walk, a nap or a bath
- Have lunch with a mentor
- Take a day trip or plan a long weekend
Grasping these five points will give you stronger business acumen and push burnout to the outer edges. Let’s take charge of our success by managing our stress and letting go of the standards that society says we must have in order to gain success.
About the Author: Erika Eller is a women’s wellness consultant. She leads women who struggle to find the balance between fitness, faith, family, and their career. Ericka empowers and encourages them to turn their fears into confidence while they slay that comparison monster. Learn more at www.erickaeller.com