We live in an over the top world. Not only is it changing at warp-speed, but everything is magnified on social media and is happening NOW, begging for an immediate response before we have taken stock of what it is happening, let alone taken a breath! This is fueling all our fears about today and the future, and our children’s future, and the future of the company we work for or the business we have built. Many of us have moments when we feel life is spinning out of control. Hold on minute. Let’s take a conscious pause – a breather. If we don’t, we will react without perspective and this might render us unable to diffuse our fears and paralyse our stress management skills. The object of stress management is to be able to reduce stress and fear, enabling us to reframe the issues at hand. When we can do this we make them manageable and are able to see any potential silver lining –  the opportunities and possibilities they might present.

A stressful or fear-inducing situation should be a red light flashing. If that red light flashes you need to take action rather than going into immediate effect:

  • Stop
  • Pause
  • Breathe
  • Step back for perspective
  • Write a list of all the potential negatives on one side of the page and the positives on the other
  • Discuss the matter with someone more neutral than you who may help you find perspective
  • Decide how you are going to approach the situation and reframe with the most positive outcome in mind

The above almost feels counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? We need to resist the desire or instinct to react to our own stress or to instruct others how to cope with theirs. When dealing with other stressed people, at home or at work here are some pointers:

  • Don’t stand between them and the world or what they fear
  • Help them to meet the fear- or anxiety-inducing situation – to move towards the perceived threat rather than retreating from it
  • Your role is to lead them back to feeling powerful again and they can’t do that if they run away from their fears
  • Help your child or colleague to see what they can do about a situation – this mindset is such a powerful enabler rather than focusing only on the can’t
  • Strangely enough, when you try and be more helpful, they often become more distressed and upset – actually if they can induce you to become upset they may feel a bit better
  • Help them to develop a believe that they can cope with what life throws at them and this will help prevent long term anxiety developing
  • Avoidance can make anxiety worse even if it provides initial relief
  • By solving problems for others and diffusing their stress instead of empowering them to diffuse it themselves, you rob them of a chance to learn how to deal with their stress and fears, and may be reinforcing the idea that something is wrong.
  • They will come to you with symptoms of their stress and anxiety. Your role is to help them uncover the source.

Take-aways For Winning At Home And Life

  • Control your own anxiety because it really is infectious.
  • Make your children feel safe. If you want to keep your children calm and help them feel safe, you need to remain calm. Model the ability to tolerate a bad situation and find a way to bear with them when they are feeling powerless.
  • Empower them by teaching them to reframe and tame their own stress.
  • Acknowledge the issue they are facing or feeling they are experiencing.
  • Reassure them that you know they can handle this even if they don’t like, or wouldn’t have chosen this situation.
  • Don’t rescue them, empower them with skills to deal with stress such as:
    • Pausing to reflect before reacting
    • Breathing
    • Discussing the pros and cons of a situation
    • Show them how to play Worst Case Scenario:
      • What is the worst thing that can happen in this situation?
      • Is it really so bad?
      • What can you do to make this better?

Take-aways To Help You Win At Work

  • When something brings up fear in you, stop, breath and get perspective before you react.
  • Is the fear that is coming up for you related to:
    • Something that happened in the past?
    • Something that is happening now?
    • Some fear about the future that you can probably do nothing about?
  • Play Worst Case Scenario as mentioned above to determine how bad something really is and how much attention you should be giving it.
  • Help your team members with their own stress management so that they are empowered and don’t always lean on you.
  • One drowning person cannot rescue another so do find support for yourself too. What are your levels of stress and anxiety like? It does spill over into all those with whom you come into contact so you are responsible for reducing your own level of baseline strain.

What Effective Stress Management Requires

Remember that good stress management requires diffusing fears not fueling them. Some people do this just fine on their own. Others need to talk it through with someone. Think about what it is that you need to do to manage your stress better and quell your fears. Perhaps you should also stop listening to so many news bulletins in a day, or change the company you keep to spending more time with upbeat people who are positive solution seekers not negative problem spotters – you know, those types who are always moaning and complaining. They will bring down your energy and ability to handle your stresses and fears because they will fuel them.

Stress management requires:

  • A positive attitude
  • A positive and goal-directed work rate
  • A set of sharp problem solving and solutions finding skills

How are you stacking up against this list?

Human Potential and Parenting Expert, speaker and author:  Helping you win at work and life