Stress: The Epidemic. Jump on the bus before you combust!
However we cut it, stress is an epidemic and, if not faced and dealt with, it can also be a silent killer. We all experience stress, uncertainty, and difficulty in our working lives from time to time – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. However, there is still a massive stigma and shame attached. The symptoms of stress creep up on you and most of us don’t even notice. If and when we do notice – we don’t know how to escape.
Stress is a silent epidemic: the spillovers become everyday behaviour
The majority of the working population, experience symptoms of stress at some point in their career. These are subtle and often go unnoticed. It is easier to notice someone else’s stressful behaviour than your own. In my work as a corporate coach, I can honestly say that 80 percent of the working population I see experience regular symptoms of stress. The symptoms of stress can have a crippling impact on personal and professional performance and working relationships.
Fight, flight, and freeze responses are present and apparent on a daily basis. These are the body’s natural reactions to danger – inbuilt stress responses that help humans react to perceived threats, like a growling tiger or an avalanche. These are survival instincts that our ancestors developed many years ago, but they can cause unpleasant changes to our bodies and minds. These stress spillovers become everyday behaviour.
Family members get the brunt of our stress behaviour
Family members get the brunt of our frustrations and stress behaviour. My daughter Poppy used to say to me, “Mummy, your eyebrows are up,” and that was a sure sign that I was stressed. I became more impatient, anxious, and even panic-stricken at my worst. This wasn’t me, the fun and adventurous girl who didn’t have a care in the world. I had become the stressed-out single mum who didn’t have time to play anymore.
Anyone worried about the impact of workplace stress on themselves or their family should listen to the signals, spot the red flags, and reach out for help before it’s too late. I recommend that you read When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté (Wiley, 2011), one of my lifelong teachers, healers, and a global expert on trauma and addiction. He explains that when our bodies are saying no, we continue to say yes. We don’t listen; we don’t notice; we just carry on, sometimes with the most horrendous consequences.
Many people experience the pressure and stress from all angles – the workplace and the family dynamics, with the child-rearing duties thrown in for good measure. The juggle can be impossible, and the whole thing quite absurd.
Leadership is Lonely: We need each other
Leadership is lonely, and the journey surrounding it is full of dark holes, whether you are a leader of your own business, a CEO, or a parent managing a home. All we need is a bit of company and someone to make us a cuppa.
Like most leaders in life, there is a list of endless problems to solve and tasks to complete. Busy leaders have no time for friendship or even a lunch date because they haven’t got time to prioritize themselves. I was living alone and surviving alone, and this was the most painful period of my life. I’d been in survival mode and on watch 24/7, sleeping underneath the window, keeping us safe, never really sleeping fully, just in case.
The business was becoming a tremendous success. But with my success came massive consequences, and for the first time in my life, I was feeling broken. Had I bitten off more than I could chew?
Stress is a silent epidemic: How did I escape before it was too late?
6 Leadership Lessons
- Being a business owner is like having a baby: the demands never stop.
- Watch for signs of burnout, notice and slow down
- Leadership is lonely. Seek support.
- Stop before you combust
- Ask people you love if you have stressful behaviour
- Take a break
After 12 years of running my Ltd business single-handed as a single Mum, I knew when enough was enough – I had to do something different. I had to take a risk. It was about time that I put myself first. What broke the cycle?
The Freedom Bus, and the freedom self-discovery brings.
As a corporate leadership coach with over 30 years of helping people solve their personal and professional issues, Jenny took the plunge and worked out her own road to freedom. As she unlocks the Road to Freedom, we shake off the shackles of the past and embrace the future.
If you would like to know more about Jenny’s new 8 week Coaching programme aimed at unlocking leadership superpower and raising behaviour from average to outstanding please see The Leadership Burst