MindReady Guide to Stress Management
What it means
We all know what stress feels like—the physical tension, the heart pumping in our chest, the thoughts racing. At work, stress can come from competing priorities, projects with tight deadlines, or unhealthy team dynamics.
Stress isn’t all bad. It can be the motivating force that gets you through an exciting challenge. But too much chronic stress can have a detrimental toll on well-being. Stress at work is associated with organizational healthcare costs and productivity losses.
Why it matters
It is part of our everyday life. The workplace is full of stressors such as long hours, poor interpersonal skills among teammates, conflicting roles and positions, or the lack of control over your playing time. Being aware of these stressors and being able to identify the signs of stress on yourself or your team is crucial to taking action when it’s necessary.
It can affect our health. In the short term, our bodies can bear stress. However, in the long run, stress can lead to not only minor ailments from headaches to stomach aches but also serious health risks such as a weakened immune system and cardiovascular diseases.
It affects performance outcomes. In an interview with the Wellness Council of America, Dr. Jernigan, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist, shares that stressed people are prone to making errors in their work, lean towards absenteeism, and are at a higher risk of showing violence and causing disciplinary issues. Furthermore, when employees are stressed, they’re less committed to their job, less engaged, and more likely to quit.
It can spill over to our personal lives, too. Stress impacts how we treat our family and community: when we are stressed, we tend to become less social and affectionate, and more irritable and impatient. Stress also affects our self-esteem and self-image, which negatively impacts how we interact with our family and social circles.
Beliefs that show it’s a strength
- I know how to effectively delegate so that everything isn’t always resting on my shoulders.
- I don’t ask my body to power through without rest and downtime to recover.
- I am here to listen to and support my team members in stressful times.
- Being a leader also means looking for signs of stress within members of my team and talking with them to find solutions.
Beliefs that show it’s a growth area
- My stress is just the unavoidable side effect of high responsibilities.
- I can’t let anyone see that I’m feeling overworked; everybody else seems to be okay with their stress levels.
- When I come home from practice, I feel worn down and don’t have the patience to deal with my family’s demands.
- It’s hard for me to find ways to wind down.
Tips to Minimize It
Keep an eye on the signs.
Watch for indications of rising stress levels in yourself and those around you. If you notice yourself feeling anxious, demotivated, fatigued, or apathetic, or if you or your team suffer from insomnia, muscle tension, or headaches, then chances are these symptoms are due to stress. Identifying the first symptoms is essential to taking action early.
Relaxation, communication, and empowerment.
Often, the reasons for unhealthy stress in sports are a lack of downtime, visibility, and control. Champion a culture of breaks and taking time off. Taking this important time to recover and reset will pay off in the long run with less time wasted and more spent efficiently in the future. Empower your team by establishing transparent communication and clear expectations. Improved understanding of your goals and standards will remove uncertainty and increase your employees’ control over their work, which can help decrease their stress levels as well.
If you have the feeling that someone on your team is stressed, offer to listen and support them. Maybe there’s someone else on the team who can help them? Sometimes, stress comes from a lack of visibility from team leaders, or a lack of recognition. Be sure to listen to their feedback and determine the source of their stress to know how to best support them.