Are you stressed?
Updated: Apr 7
“Stress less” … Has anyone said that to you before? How did that make you feel? Like me, you probably thought, “I want to throw something at you” … We all have a tipping point that is for sure.
As stress levels increase so does our performance. We become energised, focused, in the moment and ultimately reach peak performance. Then suddenly you hit that tipping point. You begin to lose focus, make mistakes, you are tired and disengaged. You are now in the distress zone.
The relationship between stress and performance has been portrayed by the stress response curve created by Nixon P. in 1979. The curve shows that as the level of stress increases, the performance level increases, to the point of eustress, or healthy tension. Near the point of fatigue, an area we know as the comfort zone indicates the range of stress levels that we can absolutely manage and facilitate a good performance.
As stress becomes overwhelming or excessive, the person reaches a fatigue point where performance levels begin to decline. I recommend spending as little time here as possible.
So, is stress good then? Well yes, and no. Take a 100m sprinter for example. Lining up on the starting blocks, the crowd is silent, it is just you and 100 metres of track. Talk about pressure. So little time to think, Bang! The gun goes off and in a blink, it is over. The number of stress hormones running through your mind for those 10 seconds led you to the point of eustress.
Hold that thought. The race has no finish line, so just keep sprinting for me. Slowly but surely, you are edging towards exhaustion. Physically you cannot take it anymore, mentally you begin to lose focus, you make a mistake, you trip over and injure yourself. You become angry and irritable; you have burnt yourself out.
Transfer that to your everyday life, or your work. Where are you at this point in time? Are you at the point of eustress? Or are you on either side of that completely bored and unmotivated or exhausted? Either way, you have a choice!
I can already hear the responses, “Yes, but I have a very stressful role”, “I have too much that has to get done”, “My situation is different”, or you play superman and say, “It is okay I can handle it”. Let’s be honest, things happen to all of us. These are the stressors that trigger your position on the stress response curve.
The key is to identify these stressors and ask yourself “what can I do to help remove or decrease these stressors?”. Stephen Covey knew this when he explained the circle of influence.
The circle of influence are the things that concern you that you can do something about. In this case take a moment to think about the stressors in your life. It could be a loss of job, moving house, an argument with a close friend or partner, job overload or financial problems. The list is endless. If you ask yourself the right questions like; “what can I do?”, then you are already halfway to help ease your stress. It's about working from the inner circle outwards.
Back to the beginning then. Instead of saying to you “stress less”, how would you feel if I said to you; “Hey, you are not alone”, “Your feelings are valid”, “How can I help?”, “I’m here if you want to talk” … Do you still want to throw something at me?
See what I did there? I considered your feelings. Behaviour breeds behaviour and it is important for us not only to recognise the impact our stress has on others, but to also help those who we recognise are stressed. Helping others can also benefit our own well-being. Stress will ultimately lead to anxiety and can prove difficult to return to the point of eustress.
What would be the point of reading this if I did not provide you with strategies?:
- Know who you are, do not try to be someone you are not.
- Focus on one thing at a time.
- Identify your stressors
- Do not try to do everything yourself
- Take regular breaks and time out to relax
- Manage your time effectively
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Try to maintain open communication with others
- Manage your work-life balance accordingly
- Change your situation if you find it stressful. You have a choice
- Talk to someone
- Get support
"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another"