Written by Shirin Khamisa, Founder, Careers by Design
Giving in to stress is like sabotaging yourself. Learn how to spot the signs and turn your situation around.
I’m really stressed about my career problem. If I can solve the problem then I won’t be stressed anymore. Isn’t it better to buckle down and focus on solving the problem rather than wasting time dealing with the stressful feelings?
And here's our answer:
When you are facing a challenge that is triggering a stress response, like trying to decide if you should quit your job or change your career, it can be tempting to put everything you’ve got into solving the immediate problem. The catch is that ignoring stress has a negative impact on your current performance and wellbeing.
Operating from a stressful state sets you up to be inefficient.
We live in times where stress, tension and worry are the norm.
It's easy to forget that stressful feelings are a call to action, letting us know that something is wrong and needs to change.
Take the example of Andrew who is feeling restless and unsatisfied at work. Everyone says he should be grateful to have such a good job in a tough economy. But Andrew feels conflicted. He is torn between the job that he’s supposed to be grateful for and the feeling that he is meant to do something else. He ignores his stressful feelings and tries to figure out what he should do. He finds himself going over the same scenario in his mind over and over again.
It’s not his fault.
Stress has triggered Andrew’s brain to go into survival mode. This limits his ability to see the situation clearly and his access to his creative problem solving abilities. Stress makes his thinking muddled. He feels so misunderstood that he doesn’t reach out to anyone for help.
More than a year goes by.
Over time the constant demands at work and Andrew’s reluctance to address his stressful situation and feelings leads to burn-out and depletion.
When stressful feelings persist, they have a detrimental impact on our wellbeing and career success. But stress is tricky, and often we are not aware of it or get caught up in the energy it creates making us feel like we don’t have the time or inner resources to do something about it. Understanding your stressors and how you respond to them allows you to develop coping strategies that work for you, giving you a powerful edge in your job search or career change.
Anita is also thinking about changing her career.
Unlike Andrew, she notices her reaction to stress (a feeling of overwhelm) and decides to do something about it, right in the moment.
She takes a few deep breaths and connects to her heart. She feels better and in that place of clarity, she remembers that her colleague Mark made a big career change before joining her team. She asks Mark for his help and they take a short walk around the block to brainstorm.
Anita returns to her desk with a new perspective and feels energized by the short exercise break. Breathing, walking and connecting with a colleague all bring down her stress and help her access her own creative problem solving abilities. Within six months, Anita has transferred into another department and is doing work she enjoys.
Doing something about the stress that you are feeling right in the moment will make you more productive- saving you time and energy. Clearer thinking, better problem solving and the ability to make better decisions, are a few of the rewards of effectively dealing with stressors.
The many demands we face make stress unavoidable. Understanding your own stressors and developing coping strategies help you turn stressful situations into manageable challenges. Challenges that were once stressful can become tolerable or even energizing and fun. If you don’t cultivate resilience in yourself, these same demands can lead to strain and burnout.
When you take the time to address your stress, you will be amazed at how much more successful you can be in your life and career!
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