Our work environments may sometimes exacerbate our negative stress. It’s possible that you’re having a terrible season or that you’re on a squad with a thorny personality.
It’s possible that there’s an evident misalignment. Maybe you need to make a huge strategy move and are worried about how it will affect your staff.
Perhaps one or more of your team members is going through a difficult time, and you feel helpless to help them.
The ramifications for you as a leader
You could be concerned about how this stress is affecting your health and well-being. This is something I’ve thought about a lot in my first job as a health practitioner.
It can’t be healthy for your health to lie awake at night thinking about a stressful circumstance.
Your stress and wellbeing as a team leader has a significant influence on the stress and wellbeing of your team members. One of the first places to start if you want to increase workplace wellness is to improve your personal wellbeing.
A different perspective
I recall conversing with a successful IT professional in my early twenties about his career and life — he was very busy with family, friends, work, being in a band, and community obligations. But what he said resonated with me because it contradicted popular opinion.
“Life is great,” he answered when I questioned him about being busy. I’m quite busy, but it’s fantastic.” So I asked whether the bustle was stressful, and he said, “No, I am not stressed at all; I enjoy everything I do and wouldn’t change a thing.”
The ‘winter mindset of positivity’
While reading an article in New Scientist lately, I was reminded of this (the December 5 edition). In the dead of winter, a health psychologist performed study in Norway.
She focused on the stress-coping attitude in particular.
Did you know that despite having some of the world’s coldest and darkest winters, Norway has one of the lowest rates of seasonal affective disorder, or ‘wintertime depression?’ Despite the harsh temperatures and two months of darkness, people survive there in the winter.
According to this scientist’s study, Norwegians have a more favorable attitude about winter: they see it as a cozy time with plenty of opportunities for leisure and being a part of nature’s intriguing changes. In general, they like the winter.
The impact of our perspective on stress
When we think of stress as beneficial to our health, performance, and mental well-being, research suggests that it produces a self-fulfilling prophesy – in other words, it becomes beneficial to our health, performance, and mental well-being.
A poll of over 30,000 adults in the United States revealed that those who had a lot of stress but didn’t believe it was bad for them fared better than those who had less stress but thought it was harmful.
So it’s not so much the conditions that determine whether you’ll be adversely stressed by them as it is whether you feel they’re terrible for you.
The unpleasant conditions remain, and although changing your thinking will not fix all of your problems, it will affect how you respond to them.
“Knowing that mindsets exist and that you can influence them is extremely powerful.” Health Psychologist Kari Leibowitz (New Scientist, 5 December 2020)
So, what are your options?
Actions that you can take
With a few small reframes, you can have a huge impact on the individuals in your team.
1. Keep your whining to a minimum. Moaning perpetuates a negative perspective and has an impact on your mood, as well as others, since emotions are infectious.
Instead, refrain from moaning. Look for things you can influence and celebrate tiny victories.
2. Be a good stress ambassador. You don’t want to minimize your team members’ personal stressors, but when you speak about your own, be an advocate for positive stress — even the most terrible circumstances may provide possibilities.
There is generally a chance to reconnect with what matters to you, acquire a new skill, or try something new. Discuss the possibilities.
3. Take a proactive approach. Also, take some effort to love your team a little bit more — by opting to do something great, you’ll be less worried by your team’s problems.
“Keep in mind that if you don’t take action, the status quo will continue.” Originals, Adam Grant.