Updated: Jul 14
Are you a successful Manager who feels stressed right now? Perhaps, your organisation is going through constant change and you are struggling to keep up? Alternatively, you are under constant threat of redundancy, and it's taking its toll on you? Do you feel overwhelmed by your workload,(like there are just not enough hours in the day, so you regularly have to take work home to keep up?
Stress happens to the best of us, no seriously it does, when it happened to me, I thought my working career was over, and I'd never come back from it.
Since that time, I have built a new business, been coached by two amazing coaches and moved on to support many of my clients through the same thing.
Below I have shared my experience in the hope it helps you if you are feeling overloaded right now.
So what causes the stress?
The most common form of stress is a mix of anxiety(tension nerves) and depression (feeling of sadness or feeling flat) It often comes with sleep problems (which make everything worse) panic feelings and anger, alcohol abuse is also common. Stress is not black and white; we all have different pressures in our lives. For some good-stress makes us work harder and sleeker, (It did for me for a very long time as I maintained a top sales position nationally) However, then sales targets were removed, and I couldn't re-adjust when faced with redundancy. For others, problems at work can escalate, compounded by ill health, family problems and money worries, all of which can make things feel much worse. More high achievers are affected by the symptoms of stress than low achievers. Our bodies are just conditioned to go in to fight or flight mode to protect us from danger.
What I noticed most was that I felt more stress when I believed I should be relaxed, but I soon realised this was because I didn't have anything to distract me. I noticed how as soon as I tried to go to sleep, no matter how tired I was I'd replay what had happened at work over and over in my head, trying to locate the flaws in my thinking, in my plan, trying to justify why I found myself going from a consistent top performing Manager to stressed seemingly overnight. Moreover, even more, important to me was, I couldn't believe how the leadership team above couldn't see what was happening to me. Suddenly my stress levels starting affecting my daily life and it felt like it was incapacitating my brain function. I genuinely believed I would never thrive in business again back then.
Since then, I have learnt that 1 in 5 people suffer from stress around the world at any given time.
So what were the early signs I missed?
I was assigned too much work with not enough time to complete it in, and I kept quiet about it.
I was not delegating or trusting others to share my workload and talking about my situation. * I was worried all the time about making mistakes.
I felt on edge always, like work relationships with my team and peers were spiralling out of control.
Poor concentration. Tiredness was a constant theme.
Completely unable to switch off from work, even on weekends and holidays
I was reaching for a glass of wine almost every night after a stressful day.
Increased self-criticism, even though I knew I was working hard and was good at my role.
What I discovered is:
We thrive on small doses of stress, but when things leave our control, or we start to avoid them, that's when it can impact our self-confidence. We can feel threatened by someone (perhaps even bullied), our bodies begin to react to the stress, leaving us feeling like our backs are against the wall, our sense of humour quickly deserts us leaving us upset or angry far too quickly.
The list of other symptoms are endless, weight gain, feeling cut off, unable to relax, increasing bad habits, drinking, smoking, allow others to walk all over you, prone to illness, more susceptible to pain, headaches, tears, tantrums, arguments and more. Once stress gets a grip on you, it can feel like it is taking over. If you are a woman, you may also have the menopause to contend with, with similar troublesome symptoms.
Workplace coaching can help
I believe coaching can go a long way to combating stress in the workplace, more importantly, when we start to feel the symptoms, the lines of communication are open for us to express our concerns, feedback takes place more often, and courageous conversations are more frequent. Because individuals are empowered to stretch their own goals, it prevents stress from settling in and avoids our teams getting into this vicious cycle.
Working with an individual coach can help too:
Having a coach gives us someone entirely neutral to trust in us, someone who has us at the heart of their work and wants the very best for us. At an executive level, it can be more isolating at the top, making sharing harder. As part of your work with a co-active coach, they will help you connect with your inner leader, and focus on your strengths. You will learn to manage your inner critic, face your fears and take control of your worries. Mindfulness and relaxation help improve sleep, even simple breathing techniques in visualisation exercises. Coaching will help you see new perspectives you may not have considered enabling you to overcome obstacles and approach opportunities with more zest.
All these tools mean your anxiety lessens, sleep problems and life problems are more manageable, stress symptoms gradually reduce until they get back in line, preventing escalation of the early signs.
I am not saying if you are already in the grips of depression and stress, coaching has the answers, you may need medical intervention, counselling and reassurance beyond coaching. However, if you are struggling to maintain work-life balance, I would highly recommend getting a coach.