Laura Capell-Abra, founder of No More Ifs Or Buts and Stress Matters, shares her tips on how employees can overcome stress
I am in awe of people that are so organised that they organise other people. It’s not actually the being organised bit, it’s the being entirely dependent on the other person to do as you hope/guide/want/tell/demand. Being skilled at managing stakeholders and being able to actually actively listen is so critical in this industry, but so few people practice and enhance these skills. This study shows how important these strong communication and organisation skills are in this industry. However, there is one skill that isn’t highlighted and the lack of it is the root cause for so many problem – self-awareness.
The challenge is that when other people are so reliant on you being constantly ‘on’ and constantly ‘in control’, the pressure can mount. Stress is an emotion that increases as people feel less in control. Feeling overwhelmed is a regular cry for those that are spinning too many plates. Spinning multiple plates is fun – there’s adrenalin but it’s hard, not everyone can do it. When you are able to step back for a moment and observe, the pride you feel for watching them all appear to work with no effort is unexplainable. But for even the most experienced plate spinners, there’s this constant pressure – the fear that something is going to go wrong.
And it’s what we do about this fear that can determine how successful we are going to be in our careers, and even in life. Believing the fear, letting the fear overcome your decision to start spinning more or bigger plates is common, and it’s this fear that means so many people don’t achieve their potential. This phrase sounds so cliché – but if there was a way to achieve even more, with no extra stress, wouldn’t you take it?
The thing is, there is an easy way to beat stress, to keep those plates spinning nicely and it all starts with being self-aware.
Stress is seen as a weakness. Stress is seen as an excuse that people use when they’re actually just lazy. Stress is seen as something other people have but not you – you’re too in control. Thing is, we look at it all wrong.
Stress is natural but it’s not inevitable, it’s not necessary and it’s certainly not a sign that you’re lazy. Stress can be caused by the simplest things, it manifests itself differently in you and me, you and you, you and anyone. For one person, it’s a sleepless night, someone else it’s a mystery rash, another it’s eating too much, and another it’s eating too little.
It builds up and up, this thing called stress and many people don’t know until all those plates come crashing down how hard their life was dealing with stress. The thing is, there is an easy way to beat stress, to keep those plates spinning nicely and it all starts with being self-aware.
We all think we know ourselves well, but when coaching people, we see how so few people do. You base your vision of yourself on what other people have told you, parents, family members, colleagues, friends, social media. But that’s not you, it’s what someone else is telling you is you. The first and biggest step to reducing stress is being more self-aware.
Becoming more self-aware doesn’t happen overnight and that’s why there are lots of short term tips and techniques that can help here. Knowing what your limits are, knowing what your triggers for stress are and knowing where you sit on this stress curve on a daily basis can transform your relationship with stress. And when you know yourself better, it is far easier to achieve that high level of stakeholder management and active listening that is needed in this industry. We can recognise our own interpretations, our own judgements and our own emotional reaction to a situation. Knowing this means that we can step back and look at our stakeholders and ensure we are adaptable, we are doing what we can to get the best out of people, in a way that suits us.
A fact I want to leave you on is from Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk. It in essence tells us that if we believe stress is bad for us, it will be bad for us. If we don’t let it eat us up, it doesn’t have any control over us and we can continue to spin as many plates as we want. It really is how you relate to stress that changes the impact it will have on you.
Laura Capell-Abra, founder of No More Ifs Or Buts and Stress Matters, will be on the main stage at CHS at 1pm, giving her insights into how ‘Success doesn’t have to be stressful’.
CHS18 takes place on April 24 at the Leeds first direct arena. Come by and see PA Life over on stand number A27.