We live in a 24/7/365 world of “always on.” Amidst the distraction, confusion and lack of focus, there is a sea of deadlines and frequent interruptions, accentuated by our FedEx culture of we want it yesterday. Is it any surprise that stress has been referred to as the health epidemic of the 21st century?
Stress is a factor in both our personal and professional lives. The physical effects of stress include fatigue, stomach issues, muscle tension, headaches, teeth grinding, changes in appetite—the list goes on.
According to the American Psychological Association:
- 75% of Americans experience stress in a given month
- 33% report they are living with extreme stress
- 76% cited money and work as the lead causes of stress
- 48% report lying awake at night due to stress.
Does this sound familiar?
Our work lives—and our colleagues—are affected by our stress as well. A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of the American workforce was “disengaged,” with 17% of this group stating they were “actively disengaged.” The World Health Organization estimates that workplace stress is costing American businesses well over $300 billion a year. How motivating is it for employees to enter the workplace with colleagues who are “on strike” at work?
What about you? How are you holding up? Are you among the 22% of U.S. employees who claim to be engaged and thriving?
As a leader, at any level, you set the tone. What can you do, each and every day, to be more productive and focused at home and at work?
Our days and experiences catch up with us and can influence our behavior. The story of Sisyphus in Greek mythology tells of a man who is destined to push a boulder up a mountain for eternity. When it gets to the top, the boulder rolls all the way down. Do you have days, weeks, months that just seem impossible?
If so, it is time to pause and reframe. Ask yourself a few questions: What was I doing when I was on top of my game? What was I doing when I was living at peak performance?
Watch your thoughts. If you are going to repeat something over and over in your head, make sure it is positive. Your day commences with YOUR energy. Energy is contagious. You, and only YOU are responsible for the energy you bring into a space and the lives you touch. Why not wake up and make a conscious decision to be a positive leader? Start with how you treat the person you purchase your coffee from in the morning and the cashier at the grocery store. Walk into your office and your home with a smile and a spring in your step.
As we enter the holiday season with family and friends, do your best to be where you are. Put your mobile device away and enjoy the dialogue, whether it is the same old war stories or updates on school and life. Volunteer for a local non-profit with your time and your wallet. Give generously.
Practice kindness and attentiveness on a year-round basis. When you look beyond yourself and focus on how you can accent the life of others in a positive way, you will find your stress reducing and you will join the 22% of active and engaged employees who colleagues, clients, friends and family are excited to spend time with.
Gail Lowney Alofsin an author, keynote speaker, adjunct professor and humanitarian. She has worked for Newport Harbor Corporation for over three decades and currently serves as the Director of Corporate Partnerships and Community Relations. Gail’s book, Your Someday is NOW – What are YOU Waiting For? has raised over $42,500 for non-profit organizations.
Gail travels from Newport, Rhode Island to present at your company or conference. For more information – firstname.lastname@example.org