Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of threat or fear. When you sense danger, whether it’s real or imagined, your body's defenses kick into gear in a rapid, automatic reaction known as the “fight-or-flight” or the "stress” response.
The pressure situations that cause stress are usually perceived as negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that puts high demands on you can be stressful.
Remember, while stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best.
What happens to you Under Stress?
When you are under stress or pressure, you are likely to revert back to your hard-wired, natural behavioural style. Your body and mind use a lot more energy when you modify your behaviour. Under times of stress, continuing to modify your behaviour can be physically and mentally draining. So to avoid this drain in energy you revert back to your natural behavioural style.
How do we React to Stress
Like anything, we all have our strengths and development areas. Sometimes if we ‘overuse’ our strengths they can become a weakness. Stress is one of those factors that can force us to revert back to our natural behavioural style, therefore depending too much on our strengths.
There is nothing wrong with that except we lose some of our ability to modify our behaviours. Under pressure or stress we become too much of ourselves. The Too effect. For example, if you are a high D Style you may become too aggressive and too competitive. If you are a high I Style you may become too talkative and begin to seek attention from everywhere. If you are an S Style you may become too laid back or seem withdrawn. If you are a C Style you may become too analytical and may seek more information as this makes decisions more comfortable.
As stress and pressure increases so can the negative aspects of your behaviour. Your strengths become so overused or pronounced, they actually become clear weaknesses. If you are self-aware you will be conscious of these weaknesses and how they may become apparent under stress or pressure.
Although small amounts of stress can help motivate you, when you’re constantly running in stress mode, your mind and body pay the price.
Your team mates and family can also be affected by your reactions to pressure situations. As managers, co-workers and friends we can begin to identify signs of stress in others. Recognising the signs helps us better support and assist them and therefore, improves the work environment.
Awareness of these significant factors is critical in gaining better control of stressful situations. We often fail to realise that our own behaviour makes things worse. Once we start feeling stressed, we tend to let emotions to take over. Then we are less likely to think about how we should modify our behaviour to improve the outcomes.
So, How can we Manage Stress?
The key to dealing with and controlling stress is self-awareness. Knowing who we are, what factors cause significant stress and pressure, how we react to stress or pressure and how to ease it.
You need to know how you behave under pressure to understand how you can gain control of stress. For example, this morning I was trying to get two young children clothed, dressed ready for school. I have 2 dogs that needed feeding and one of them disappears every time I am about to leave as he doesn’t want to go in his pen. I have chickens that needed feeding, ponies that needed to be let out of the stables all before I leave for work at 7.45am. On top of this, once I have finally coaxed the dog out from under the house and am ready to leave I had my son tell me that he needs to take a newspaper article today for current events! By the time I got to work I was feeling rather wound up and had to walk into an office with a smile on my face.
I needed to step back and realise how I would unconsciously react and how I should react. We can’t change an event that has already happened, the only thing we can do is ask ourselves how we choose to react to our current circumstances and to the people around us.
Revisit the stress section of your Extended DISC report every couple of months to remember the factors that cause significant amounts of stress and how you react to stress/pressure situations. This will help you decide if or what modifications to your behaviour you can make to improve the outcome of stressful situations.
Remember to think about how you could react before you do, especially when you are around the people most important to you! Co-workers, friends and family, people you know who you are most comfortable with are usually the ones who take the brunt of your blowout. They become your outlet
We are at our worst and best with people we know well.
If you frequently find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You can protect yourself and others— and improve how you think and feel — by learning how to release stress.
- Kelly Fairhurst