If you’re like 75% of other Americans, you’ve experienced moderate to high levels of stress in the past month, and often lie awake at night because of it.
Trying to balance the demands of your work and family life can stretch even the strongest among us to the breaking point. But there is a way to be successful and productive even when under stress, says Sharon Melnick, PhD and author of “Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s On.”
In her book she writes that stress is not necessarily the result of too much work or continual interruptions, but rather when the demands of your situation exceed your perceived ability to control them. Every challenge, she writes, can be divided into the 50% you can control and the 50% you cannot.
In this interview with Anita Bruzzese, Melnick offers strategies to cope:
In the book you address being “impeccable” for the 50% you can control when faced with a challenge. What do you mean by this?
SM: We face so many stresses in our lives. The average business professional has 30 to 100 projects on their plate, gets interrupted on average seven times an hour and faces increased competition and rapid changes in their business. On top of that, 65 million of us are too wound up to sleep through the night so we walk around exhausted, and plenty of us have at least one person in our lives who drives us nuts!
The key to having success under stress is controlling what you CAN control. You can practice this by dividing every challenge into two parts: the aspects of the situation that you can control, such ashow you communicate, and the aspects that you can’t control, such as other people’s reactions. Then, make sure that you are effective in what you are doing before you ever allow yourself to lose time and focus in frustration over what is not in your control.
AB: Many people feel stress because they feel trapped in their situation, whether it’s a bad boss or a demanding schedule. You say there are ways to keep a positive outlook and be happy even when the situation is negative. Can you give a couple of tips on how to do this?
SM: 1. See if you can turn that situation on its head in order to make it work for you. Look for a “what’s in it for me?” How can you “use the company” instead of feeling used by them? You too can turn an obstacle into opportunity!
2. You may be stuck in a bad situation because you have not exercised the choices that you do have in the situation. If you are trapped in a relationship situation at work or at home, have you used the most effective influencing techniques to persuade that person to support you, or have you just been hoping the other person will change? Have you set up constraints that are of your own making? Could you use your same skills in a new industry or start a side business? For example, instead of just being another coach, I now coach thousands of people to be productive under stress.
3. Scientists estimate we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. That self-talk you have all day long is like listening to a mental iPod. What tunes are playing on your mental iPod (read the rest here)
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