Stress is a now common part of everyday lives. According to Statistics Canada “Stress is a common aspect of life and can have negative consequences for health. These consequences include direct impacts on mental health and the onset and progression of physical illness1,2. In addition, stress may also influence health indirectly through health behaviours such as smoking, drug use, and excessive eating and alcohol related behaviours3.”
In a recent article by Benefits Canada 58 per cent reported feeling job-related stress on a daily basis. A new survey of more than 2,700 Globe and Mail readers has revealed work was the biggest stressor for Canadians this year, beating out categories like family, money and “love life.”
Work-related stress can be particularly problematic for organizational leaders who face long work hours, agressive competition and economic pressures. Chronic stress can impair the immune system, contribute to depression and even reduce gray matter in critical regions of the brain that regulate emotion and important physiological functions.
Beyond the long-term health consequences of stress is the fact that excessive stress simply makes it difficult to lead effectively. Stress can leave you feeling distracted, anxious, short-tempered and irritable. This leads to a decline in productivity and impacts your ability to make good decisions.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to address and take control of your stress. Executive coaching is one solution that has shown consistent positive results. These results come directly from helping leaders create powerful systemic shifts in how they experience stress.
How can executive coaching reduce your stress?
1. Identify your stress triggers.
The first part of gaining control of your stress is creating an awareness. We each have stress patterns we follow in situations, events or in people engagement. Within the coaching process, you gain clarity and insight of when and why you’re triggered. This knowledge leads to strategies to minimize or eliminate the triggering thoughts. In addition, coaching will help you understand how your own leadership style influences interactions in the workplace and how your management approach may be contributing to stress.
2. Clarity and understanding your stress response.
When you face a threat, stress hormones flood your system, producing a reaction known as the “fight-or-flight” response. Your brain identifies the danger and then sounds the alarm, preparing your body to either stand and face the threat or seek an escape. Being able to quickly identify these physical and mental reactions is the first step toward learning how to manage your stress.
3. Learn how to better manage your energy, thoughts and moods.
Your thoughts and moods have a profound impact on your day-to-day impacting your performance, energy level and results. Many people spend the majority of their day stuck in energy-depleting states of stress, frustration and overwhelm, often needlessly. A great coach can help you understand how your patterns create those unproductive states, and co-create strategies of how to unleash the energy reserves that we all have within us by gaining greater self-awareness and shifting your state.
4. Learn and apply stress management techniques.
Executive coaching can teach you how to most effectively calm your mind and body, thereby allowing you to view things from a broader perspective. These techniques include focused breathing, visualization, movement and mindfulness meditation. In a study by UCLA researchers, people who practiced mindfulness for just five minutes each day over a three-week period experienced a significant reduction in stress. They also experienced increases in life satisfaction, mastery of their environment and positive relations with others.
5. Create long-term, sustainable change.
By increasing your self-awareness and practicing these techniques, you will be repatterning and allowing for neurological shifts in your brain. This leads to new responses to circumstances, conversations, conflict and your environment; improved personal and professional performance; and an increased capacity to change.
Executive coaching can assist you in advancing your career, your business and your life in many ways. Stress reduction is just one of the many benefits that can have a resounding effect on virtually every aspect of your life. By tackling your stress today, you will be better equipped to deal with the challenges you face in the future.