To some extent stress is a natural part of being a manager. But, if we don’t deal with it well it can damage our mental health. That’s why we’ve developed this manager’s guide to managing stress.
There are all kinds of stressful situations in the modern workplace that can have repercussions for both our own wellbeing and that of the whole organisation.
Restructures, rapid change or the introduction of new systems or procedures, being asked to do ‘more with less’, and being allocated work that’s outside of our skillset can all take their toll on both our energy levels and our mental health.
The managers who have to make the hard decisions, and break the news in difficult conversations with individuals are often overlooked when these events occur.
That’s why we’ve developed this manager’s guide to building resilience.
1. Start your strategies from the top
We often focus on mental health at a personal level but actually, building resilience at an organisational level could help us all cope better with stress.
Start thinking about how you can create the right kind of environment in your business. What are the four to five things you could do that would reduce unnecessary pressure in your workplace?
This could be as simple as ensuring people leave on time. It could be about bringing new and exciting projects into the workplace so that people are not fearful of redundancy. Or it could be just giving more recognition for what has been achieved.
2. Get training
Managers sometimes need to tell people what they don’t want to hear. Disappointing someone or breaking bad news to them can have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing and theirs. That’s why it’s vital that your people managers are properly trained in how to have difficult conversations. Better yet, think about coaching opportunities for your senior people – after all the chances are they’ve not been taught how to do this – and that can be stressful!
3. Reorganise your own work day
Get on top of your own time management. Research shows that we can build stress-countering resilience by chunking together similar tasks. For example, try working through repetitive or administrative tasks at one time and do strategic or creative tasks at another. It’s also a great idea to consciously manage your procrastination habits and stop letting interruptions rule you once and for all.
Regardless of the approach you take to getting organised, your brain will thank you for it.
4. Take a stress break
Taking regular breaks is one of the most effective ways to stay alert and in a ‘reward’ state. Ideally you should spend no longer than an hour and a half focusing on any task at the one time. Get up, walk around, have a drink – the aim is to just clear your head for a minute or two.
You should also build some reflection time into every week – ideally at the beginning or end of the day. This could include meditating, walking, swimming or doing some other form of exercise.
5. Stop bad working habits
Some habits have been shown to directly and adversely affect our minds and make them less productive. These include:
- Scheduling back to back meetings: always try to give yourself at least a 15-minute buffer.
- Multitasking: forget the idea that trying to do multiple things at once is a virtue. Multitasking has been proven to be bad for our mental health (and actually, it’s not even physically possible!).
- Checking email or social media: continuously emailing or posting throughout the day can clutter our minds, distract us from getting things done, and get in the way of good mental health.
6. Practice coping strategies
Not even the most careful planning will make stressors disappear altogether. So, while proactive strategies are a big part of dealing with stress, you’ll need some reactive tools too.
Taking a walk around the block and talking to others may both help you stay calm and keep a sense of perspective. Eating well, exercise, sleep – all contribute to boosting our coping skills. Understand what works for you. And encourage these behaviours in others so that your people see the benefits too.
7. Think balance
In short, keeping our mental health peak performance is about keeping a balance between four main areas of our lives:
Thinking: practice mindfulness, positive thinking and problem-solving strategies.
- Physical: eat well, get enough sleep and exercise.
- Emotional: connect with your friends and community as well as spiritually if this is important to you. You can also use reactive tactics such as BLR when feeling negative emotions.
- Environmental: do your best to keep stable work hours and be sure to take time away from the office where you can.
By consciously devoting attention to each of these areas, you won’t just feel better and have a better chance of performing at your peak, you’ll also be helping build the resilience you need to cope with workplace stress.
If you’d like to know more about how you can build strategies for better mental health into your workplace get in touch.