The Stress Mastery Challenge
Stress is an omnipresent challenge to optimal performance and wellbeing in all areas.
Stress not only impacts organisational productivity*, it impacts people's lives*.
* $14.8 BILLION IN LOST PRODUCTIVITY DUE TO AVOIDABLE JOB STRESS (MEDIBANK)
* 3 YEARS SHORTER LIFESPAN DUE TO WORK STRESS (HARVARD AND STANFORD STUDY)
Typical approaches under the umbrella of 'stress management' are not fully addressing the magnitude and growth of our stress epidemic. That's because managing stress is an incomplete approach to building and maintaining our performance, health, wellbeing, and relationships. We deserve better than merely managing - we owe it to ourselves to master stress so we can be at our best and learn from life's challenges.
That's why it's my firm position that learning and practising strategies that help us to master stress in our work, life, and relationships is a ‘must have’ for our overloaded and overwhelmed society.
Let's acknowledge that stress will never go away, and we don’t want it to. With a mindful approach and balanced performance and wellbeing resilience, stress can be mastered and epic progress can be realised. Not all stress is bad. Stress management promoters often lead with the message that stress needs to be managed - that we need to get rid of it because it undermines our performance and creates health issues. This can send a simple - albeit misleading message - that stress is bad. Stress is not the issue. Our relationship and responses to stress that occurs, that's the issue.
It is more appropriate, in my professional opinion, to really open our minds and not only knowing but talking about the many ways we can approach and master stress.
Mindset - Our relationship to stress makes our mindset, attitude, and beliefs about stress incredibly important. Some stressors most benefit from adopting a learning and growth mindset as this creates an approach and relationship towards challenges that promotes a curiosity to learn and make progress rather than avoid;
Mindfulness - Our relationship to stress makes our mindful engagement with stress another important factor that we can work on. Some stressors can be dealt with by bringing our attention to the reality of the present-moment. Then, attending to a stressor with some perspective as opposed to automatic judgments. Then, self-regulating our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Taken together, this helps us to open up to the current situation and engage with reality more effectively. Of course, we will still benefit from...
Management - Our responses to stress are important. I know what I just said about management, but it is still part of the equation. Coping with a stressor, managing our responses, and resiliently bouncing back from stress, struggles, and setbacks is in the stress mastery mix. That can mean anything from allowing and accepting stress openly, to engaging with stress curiously and adaptively - solving problems with creative solutions; through to demonstrating effective and resilient stress management skills and actions to reduce stress and/or initiate valuable forward momentum in spite of stress.
Mastery is the overall objective, and learning AND practise is key to mastery.
That is, it's not sufficient to simply 'know' about strategies for working effectively with stress. Sure, we need to be understanding. We need to have learned what works for us. Most importantly, however, we need to draw on skills for working with stress when we need them most - and that requires practise.
Without practise, we rely on our default reactions, reflexes and embedded patterns that may not draw on the best of our knowledge. Commitment to practise and skill development is key. Progress is key. Impact is key. Stress Mastery is key - and only possible when we learn through practise!
We can all benefit from being our best in times of stress and I love researching and experimenting with evidence-based strategies and practices we can collectively learn and practise to make that happen.
2016 services pack