By Barb Paszyn

Sweat is dripping down your temple and your heart is racing faster and faster.

You close your eyes and take a moment to collect yourself. You take a deep breath.

You remind yourself that no one knows how nervous you are – you’ve got this. You can do this marketing research presentation in your sleep.

You open your eyes, put your hand on the door of the conference room, and push it open to witness a sea of faces smiling at you. Seeming completely confident, you march in and start your presentation. Again, you remind yourself, you’ve got this because you do.  

Does this situation sound familiar to you? Or maybe you dream about it? More often than you’d like to admit?

Unfortunately, most of us feel this sense of insecurity at some point in our career and, because of this, we need to learn how to manage stress. Otherwise, it could control us. Stress is so powerful that it can physiologically take over how we feel – like causing us to breathe quickly, and literally psyching ourselves out before even starting a presentation.

Stress can also affect your work culture. Your personal energy (aura) can influence people, and this is one of the other reasons why stress management is so important. After all, if you’re happy and relaxed, you’re more likely to make others happy and produce better work. It’s a win-win for everyone.

If you’re an employer, I’m sure you want to avoid an unhappy work environment as much as possible because not only does discord stress you out, finding new employees costs money, time, and resources. Global News reported that 25% of Canadians have quit their job due to work stress. That’s 1 in 4 people! Clearly, this is an epidemic we need to address.

Many of us at Sklar Wilton wanted to know HOW to prevent this from happening in order to keep our positive work culture. So, I decided to lead a one-hour session about stress management. 

Here are just some of my favourite tips from the stress management session.

Stress can be a good thing! We shouldn’t make stress the enemy. There is good stress (aka eustress) that motivates us to do our best and be our best. It’s good stress if we have a positive reaction to the stressor. An example would be if you have a report due and you feel a little anxious about it. This type of stress simply pushes you to work harder and get it done on time (or hopefully ahead of time).

Step A W A Y. It’s okay to take a breather and remove yourself from a stressful situation. Sometimes removing ourselves gives us a clearer perspective. It also reduces our anxiety. If I get fired up about something at work, I try to figure out what the stress-inducing trigger was. I then find a secluded place to close my eyes and just breathe. When I return to my work, I feel more at ease and ready to deal with the fire that needs to be put out.

Be mindful of your triggers. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. Learn what stresses you out and try to fix it. Be mindful of how you feel, especially in certain work situations. I’m a HUGE believer that you create the world you’re in. So try to have a positive perspective and take control.

Do what you love! Find a hobby that inspires you and lets you relax. It should be something that makes you feel good about yourself. For instance, I stopped scuba diving for about 3 years. I thought I would never scuba dive again because I didn’t have a close friend who also liked to dive recreationally. I kicked that negative mindset and went scuba diving in the pool. I am slowly but surely getting back into it. I plan to book a scuba diving excursion soon. I can’t wait!

Make an Action Plan. I learned about using an action plan when I took a Choose Gratitude stress management workshop. Creating an action plan requires a little more work. It is a self-care plan that guides you into making realistic and actionable goals (you can download a template from the Kaiser Permanente website). You can also do it in your head or on paper, whatever works for you.

I use my action plan when I need to manage my life stressors. It has really helped me, especially with finances. Remember: You can always change your action plan to make it more attainable. I also use the mnemonic acronym SMART to make sure my goals are:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Timely

It really helps bring me back down to earth!

Whether you’re dealing with a tough client email or a major presentation for the C-suite, I hope you put some of this into practice so you can manage your stress better. Don’t let stress negatively affect your work culture and create turnover – try some of these simple tips.

At SW&A, we pride ourselves on our culture. We have purposefully created an environment where people look forward to coming to work. If you need any guidance with how to create a positive stress-free work environment, and use culture as a growth driver, contact us any time.