In these days of uncertainty in so many areas, it’s more important than ever to manage stress and anxiety, especially for team members. Because anxiety tends to be an emotional pattern that is built up in the system over many weeks and months, it’s hard to release, especially when it’s an accepted part of the company culture. The drawback is that anxiety slowly wears away the emotional well-being of employees, resulting in loss of focus, burn-out and decreased productivity.
Check Your Own Stress Levels
Remember to check your own stress levels as it’s easy to transfer unwanted anxiety to your team members. It’s easy to communicate tension when working as the leader with your team, especially when things change, as they are likely to do. It may benefit you to take a few minutes to do deep breathing exercises before meetings to release stress. Non-verbal communication comes in many forms, such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice and body posture, and gives us valuable information about a situation including how a person might be feeling. So it’s important to calm your system before working and talking with others.
Be Proactive About Stress
Instead of making suggesting when stress and overwhelm are high in your employees, it’s better to be proactive to keep their emotional state in a good place. That way anxiety is kept at low or reasonable levels and “runaway” stress doesn’t commandeer their system. Tell your team members that they can talk with you anytime to problem solve the challenges of overwhelm. Also, ask about the tools they are using to keep their emotions balanced to see that they are using self-care techniques on a regular basis.
There are tried and true ways to boost your mood naturally and without stimulants. Below is a list of suggestions that you and your employees can keep handy and use before the stress of the job takes over.
- Increase Omega-3’s
Omega-3’s, found in flax seeds, fatty fish, walnuts, dark leafy greens and chia sees boost brain resilience, lowers inflammation and has a positive effect on heart health. When the brain is nourished, your focus, concentration and mood are stabilized.
- Get Moving
Exercise helps your body stay healthy, stronger and limber. It also floods your brain with endorphins — chemicals that enhance your mood. Aerobic exercise like hiking, swimming, dancing, and biking will pump blood and endorphins through your body to give you a lift when needed.
- Drink Water
Dehydration can cause fatigue, hunger and dizziness. Make sure you are getting plenty of water, especially in warm summer days.
- Rock it Up
Music can have a positive and immediate impact on your mood. Listening to or playing songs gives your brain a boost of dopamine — the brain chemical that helps you feel pleasure. Music can lift depression and even help you sleep more deeply.
- Take a Social Media Break
Social Media can lead us to feel inadequate, like when we see images of people on fabulous vacations or eating gourmet meals. We can even become triggered when we see pictures of happy family and friend gatherings when we may not be able to get together with our own relatives, making us feel lonely. You can prevent these thoughts by turning off social media for at least one day a week or even longer.
- Increase Laughter
Scientific evidence has shown that laughter can immediately lift up our mood and make us feel better. With a plethora of comedy shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, you can stream funny content as needed. Not hooked up to these services? Try funny pet videos on Youtube to put a smile on your face.
- Get Natural
Outdoor natural settings, such forests, mountains or even a local park can help to elevate your mood. Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, an activity that originated in Japan when you spend time under the canopy of trees, has been shown to make people happier and also has a positive effect on mental and physical health.
- Lower Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol acts as a depressant and can dehydrate your system (see number 3 above), both of which can make you feel low. Drink water after each beverage so you can make sure that you’re maintaining your hydration levels and possibly lowering your alcohol consumption.
- Increase Sleep and Rest
Good quality sleep is imperative for soothing your mind. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep and not overdoing stimulants, like coffee, tea or energy drinks. When caffeine is present in the system, your body tends to resist moving into deeper levels of nourishing sleep. Plan naps or downtime, which release stress and makes you feel rested throughout the day.
- Connect with Others
Being with friends, family or a group of people that share common interests can uplift your attitude and increase your laughter. Whether it’s in person or on Zoom, plan weekly get-togethers to stay in touch on a regular basis. By connecting, you help others feel less lonely and brighten their day, which in turn, helps you feel better.
- Get Creative
Tap into the things that increase your fun. Paint, read, create jewelry, play music — anything that makes you happy. You can also take up a new hobby. Focusing your energy on something new can help redirect your thoughts to put a more positive spin on activities in your life.
For more answers on effective team management, read “My team wants me to change a habit, but it’s been hard to make” and “How do I get my team members to take ownership and solve problems?”