Get Into the Zone: Make Stress Your Ally

Stress is inevitable. Life is full of potential stressors. On any given day (or week, or year), the amount of stress affecting you or your staff and colleagues may vary in intensity and frequency, but a stress-free existence is almost impossible.

Your body has a protective mechanism for reacting to a perceived threat: the stress response. Your nervous and endocrine systems engage in a complex set of processes to safely navigate what it deems an imminent danger, whether that’s a car speeding toward you or a deadline. This is a natural and valuable physiological occurrence.

After the multifaceted preparedness of the stress response, your parasympathetic nervous system takes over, returning your body to a more relaxed state. This process is naturally self-limiting, designed to resolve automatically.

So why do we think of stress as bad?

Stress—much like criticism, feedback, and other supposed workplace negatives—can be problematic if not understood. But, when properly managed and optimized, stress, like criticism, can be a tool for change and a driver of positive action.

Are you or your team stressed out? Working Solutions can provide qualified temporaries to alleviate overwork, keep employees happy and help you rest a little easier. 

Reframe your view of stress.

Trying to eliminate stress is not a method of managing it. Change your thinking from “must reduce stress” to “must handle stress more effectively,” and you will start recognizing stress as potentially purposeful, helpful, and a catalyst.

The stress response itself is a finely tuned problem solver. When your body reflexively engages it, you automatically and actively assess and adapt to a potentially troublesome situation. Framed that way, you can see stress as a positive tool for moving forward, avoiding hazards, and learning from your environment and experiences.

Develop stress self-awareness and know acute vs. chronic.

Learning to be aware of your stress is key:

  • What are your stress triggers?
  • How do you feel during the stress response?
  • Are you aware of and benefitting from a restorative recovery period?
    • Nurture relationships with colleagues, clients, and your support staff outside work. Teamwork and connectedness to others help prevent stressful isolation.
    • Develop workplace infrastructure that supports employees in a myriad of ways, such as offering financial security, encouraging work-life balance, fostering a sense of purpose, creating open communication channels, and making the workplace a safe and trusted environment.

Not everyone has the same stress triggers. Your sensitivity to stressors before the response kicks in is different from other people’s. Life experiences and genetics play a role in how you tolerate stress.

Learning to effectively manage stress is about recognizing and intervening when the stress response is continuously activated.

Acute (sudden, short-term) stress that follows the pattern of stressor > stress response > recovery state is less disruptive than chronic (systemic, long-term) stress in which the natural return to baseline doesn’t have a chance to happen.

Chronic stress causes your body to remain flooded with cortisol, adrenaline, and fight-or-flight hormones without a return to normal levels, which makes it harder to function productively and puts your health at risk.

But short-term stress can be invigorating and beneficial if it’s well-managed.

How to optimize stress levels for better performance:

There are many strategies for harnessing stress so it becomes a useful tool for growth.

  • The physiological process of the stress response provides an immediate energy boost and improved mental focus. Channel that energy and concentration productively into the stressful tasks before you, and don’t squander it on general agitation or worrying.
  • Try to be cognizant of how long you stay in the amped-up phase and when, or whether, the calming reset happens afterward. Occasional bursts of stress response can be energizing and productive. The key to optimizing stress is to ensure that you don’t stay in that heightened mode all the time.
  • The recovery period should occur naturally. But when stress is chronic, you may need to take steps to nudge your body along. One way to encourage the reparative resistance stage is to take breaks. Brief but purposeful mental and physical breaks like walking around the block, looking at the sky, or closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing, can interrupt the stress response and trigger the subsequent resolution phase.
  • Help create a supportive workplace environment that keeps stress contained to manageable episodes and not a systemic way of life.

How a staffing partner can help

Being understaffed is a stressor for the entire organization. Existing staff feel overworked, overly stressed, resentful, and eventually burned out. This may lead to increased turnover, exacerbating the short-staffing problem and perpetuating the burden on current employees.

Partnering with a staffing firm will help you mitigate understaffing as well as bring in quality candidates who should be able to hit the ground running. By utilizing a staffing company to take care of recruiting candidates, vetting applicants, and onboarding new hires, your HR team will not only be less stressed but will be better able to focus on other administrative functions, such as enhancing employee benefits packages, which will optimize stress levels overall.

Make a staffing firm your ally so that stress is not an adversary. Contact Working Solutions today to make staffing and hiring easier.

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