I’m seeing more and more that the women I meet that are stressed out to the max and most of them don’t even see it (and studies are backing that up). The danger is they’re on a one-way motorway to burnout. It’s time they see it, and even more importantly, that they do something different to manage the stress.
It’s no surprise really when you think about all the expectations placed on people, and women particularly. The drive to deliver results to deliver at work (when scrutinised more), pressures at home, and the biggest of all is the pressure and expectation that they put on themselves. There’s also the saying yes to too many things, and struggling to say no (except to their own wants and needs). The setting of impossible goals and never ending to do lists. There’s perfectionism, worrying about things going wrong which leads to micro managing, and struggling to let go of control.
But all of this people pleasing, over achieving, and trying to control everything comes at a huge price. Your mental and physical health!
You see it’s not like you notice it because the pressure is increasing so gradually and steadily. And you are someone who gets things done. You juggle. You cope. And you keep everyone around you right.
And there’s a fear associated with stopping that. The worry of dropping a ball, or leaving it to someone else to not be done (or not be done right) probably feels more stressful than letting some of it go. But here’s the thing…that’s a lie your brain is telling you because of fear!
And to make matters worse because you’re feeling so time poor you stop going out for walks, or taking lunch, or going to the gym, or doing some mindfulness, or meeting up with friends. You’re too tired, and you’ve too much to do!
Or actually is it that you’ve stopped making time because you feel so under pressure? Are you starting to see the stress cycles?
When you’re in this position you certainly can’t perform at your best. In fact, you also annoy the people around you, you annoy yourself, and lose impact. Your clarity of thought, creativity, and ability to problem solve are all impeded. Plus you’re tired, so your performance is a world away from your potential.
If this is resonating then the great news is, once you recognise the pressure and the lies your brain is telling you, you can make positive changes…that will not only release the pressure, but will also help you perform better!
So what can you do?
It starts with recognising the problem. Paying attention to the signs…if you’re struggling to sleep, or walking round with a knot in your stomach, irritable tummy, snapping at people, thoughts are racing, maybe feeling like you’re never good enough, your imposter is high, second guessing yourself, struggling to make decisions. If you’re constantly telling yourself “it will get better when…” then it’s a pretty reliable sign that you need to stop.
One thing that’s worth noting is that pressure can increase, and our coping strategies feel less effective when in perimenopause and menopause, which can happen at ANY AGE AFTER PUBERTY. It’s always worth ruling out any medical issues so a trip to the doctor will never be wasted. To learn more about the challenges (and benefits) of menopause, join me for a fab interview I’m doing…
So here’s 7 steps to help you break the cycle.
- Acknowledge and recognise your stress warning signs. This includes seeing the pressure you’re putting on yourself! We can’t fix what we can’t see.
- Next it’s key to label. Perfectionism/ controlling/ over achieving/ people pleasing/ catastrophising…what name can you put on your brand of stressor? And if you aren’t sure, check out this assessment to help you see what’s really going on https://www.positiveintelligence.com/saboteurs/
- Take some time out to refocus, re-energise and regroup. Go for a walk, take your lunch break, do a few minutes mindfulness practice. Taking time to clear your head to engage the different parts of your brain will work wonders.
- Build time into your day, your week, your month for you. Here’s 3 things you should be scheduling so people can’t rob you of you time. Your lunch break, time to work (meeting free), and time to think! That may be a good one to do when working from home and you can get out for a walk to help you think more creatively. And a simple way to build time into your day is schedule meetings differently – hello 15/20/45 minute meetings…everyone will thank you for that 10 or 15 minutes to reset!
- Prioritise things that replenish you and plan them into your week. Make a coffee date with a friend that energises you. Put your gym date in the diary. Plan in a cinema or dinner date with a friend.
- Get delegating! When you’re feeling stress you tend to control and micro manage others more. Remind yourself that they are capable, and that by not delegating you are actually holding them back from achieving their potential. They will likely be grateful for a bit of breathing space too!
- Reflect and recognise what you’re doing well. When you’re under pressure you tend to run from one activity to the next without stopping to catch your breath. This actually means you’re missing out on vital learning, and you’re bringing the wrong type of energy into your work…which means poorer performance. Take time at the end of your working week (even better if it’s every day), to ask yourself…
- What did I do well this week?
- What did I learn?
- What could I do even better?
- What do I want to achieve next week?
- How can I make sure I show up in the best way?
If the only action you were to take was to stop, center yourself, and breathe…then you’re already making a big difference.
And if you want to know how well this works, you only have to look to my Impactful Leader Masterminders…they report feeling calmer, more able to deal with the challenges of the work climate, and are able to solve problems more easily. In fact one of them said recently “look at how zen we are, it’s amazing!” Yet none of them realised how much stress they were at the start.
If you’d like more zen, less stress, and to be a more impactful leader then why not email me for a chat to see how I can help you!
Wishing you a happy and relaxed Friday!