If there’s one thing people hate, it’s stress. No one likes that feeling of being crunched, especially when it comes to work. We want to feel like we’ve got it all under control, 100% of the time, or we’re failing. But the truth of the matter is that stress can be a valuable tool at every level of employment: whether we’re at the top, working our way up, or striking it out on our own.
The key is responding to stress the right way. There are plenty of unhealthy responses to stress. We can get lost in anxiety spirals, overeat, undersleep, panic, and make split-second decisions that are based more in our feelings rather than in rational decision-making.
While we’re all used to the bad feelings (and decisions) associated with stress, we can all learn to redirect stress into productive, useful results that are not only good for our personal progress in work and life, but good for the people who are watching and waiting for our leadership. This is stress management done right.
6 Ways to Channel Stress Into Productivity
1) Recognize Stress as a Motivator
The easiest thing you can do to manage stress is to try to reduce it. Tackling what’s stressing you head on—dealing with a challenge, working through a problem, and ridding yourself of the issue—is not only productive, but it’s the only sure way to kill stress. You can’t ignore it. You can’t skirt around it. Stress can make you pull your hair out or you can let the pressure push you forward into a real solution.
2) View Discomfort as Growth Potential
They call them “growing pains” for a reason. Some schools of thought say being content and comfortable is actually a bad thing. It means we’re not growing, learning, or changing. Just as failure isn’t inherently bad, being too comfortable can be bad. It means we’re not putting ourselves out there to achieve more than where we are. Stress means you have a giant to conquer. See this as a chance to grow, gain, and achieve. Stretch your potential to its limits and come out stronger on the other side.
3) Refocus on Someone Else
Stress can pull us into the land of “me.” We think about ourselves, our anxiety, how a problem affects us, etcetera. You can kill stress simply by refocusing your energies on other people. Maybe you’re still dealing with the same issue, but you’re not thinking about yourself anymore: you’re helping someone else who’s in the same boat. That not only increases your manpower, but it puts you in a position of leadership. Step up to the plate.
4) Knock Out the Small Stuff
When you’re feeling stressed about a daunting issue, one of the best go-to stress management strategies you can have is to knock out the small stuff first. If you feel like you aren’t making any headway, you’re only bound to feel more stressed out. If you take small tasks that can chip away at the larger, bigger issues at hand, it’s going to start to put you at ease. You can stop spinning your wheels and it will be easier to put together a plan of action.
5) Keep Your Perspective
When faced with a monumental, stressful problem, it’s incredibly easy to lose perspective. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the top of the chain or not! We forget all that we’ve overcome—all of the other tough times, all of the other big stressors, and all of the victories. When you feel stressed and on the verge of a burnout, it’s important to remember that this isn’t your first rodeo. You’re more than capable. Your team is capable.
6) Prioritize Stress-Busters
Lastly, you can’t expect to lead or be productive if you can’t get into the right frame of mind. Good ideas and solutions can’t come if you are overworked and overtired. You need to prioritize self-care and rest in times of stress. As much as your mind may try to keep you awake, sleep. Exercise. Skip the drive-thru and stick to a good diet.
Stress makes us want to do bad things for our bodies, but it’s only going to cause you to feel bad and be unable to work as efficiently. Exercise, sleep, and staying healthy are key to clarity in your thoughts.
Ultimately, good stress management doesn’t just keep you sane. It allows you to take the stresses and pressures of life and work, no matter how big or small, and turn them into something good and valuable.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity that might be right in front of you.