Stress is an essential component of challenge in life and work

Stress is not all bad. It’s a question of how much stress each of us can deal with, how we react to it and our ability to adapt to significant sources of stress. This was the message delivered by Christine Berg, manager FS Consulting in Grant Thornton when she addressed a Shannon Chamber webinar on the topic of Stress and Resilience.

“A stressor can enhance a person’s competence. Too little stress is not sufficiently challenging, high levels can leave an individual helpless, whereas moderate levels provide a challenge that, when overcome, strengthens competence. It’s all linked to our ability to cope and to bounce back,” Ms Berg stated.

Applying this to a company setting, Ms Berg said that managers should be cognisant of the fact that stressors can affect their employees differently and may come from different aspects of an employee’s life, from their work, social or home environment and every employee’s threshold for and reaction to stress may be different.

“With 44% of stress caused by workload, it’s so important for managers to understand the symptoms of stress and the impact it may have on an employee’s emotions, behaviour, their physical appearance and their ability to concentrate on their work. Support networks are so important to encourage conversations about what is causing the stress and what can be done to alleviate it,” Ms Berg added.

Encouraging managers to improve communication within their organisations, develop a productive way for managing conflict, improve decision making, select the right people for the right roles, enhance team collaboration, lead people authentically and coach for performance to build a resourceful organisation, Ms Berg also advised attendees to work on enhancing their own personal resilience.

Encouraging attendees to take time out recharge their batteries by doing something they enjoy Ms Berg stated: “You can’t recharge your personal battery if your mind is always on. Do whatever it takes to let the brain relax.”

“Maintain and build upon mutual, long-lasting relationships. They will help you to gain perspective in times of stress. Maintain an optimistic outlook and try visualising what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear. Allow yourself to experience strong emptions as opposed to controlling your feelings.

“Make positive choices and decisions and act upon them. Don’t ignore your problems; figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching from the problems and stresses and wishing they would go away. Don’t blow a bad event out of proportion; think how you have coped with hardships in the past and the skills and strategies that helped you through these rough times. Most importantly, accept that some goals may no longer be attainable, that circumstance cannot be changed. This will help you to focus on what you can alter.”

Speaking after the webinar, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said; “Dealing with stress and building the resilience to cope is such an important issue in the times we now find ourselves in, especially for anyone trying to juggle and manage work and home life while working from home. People are bound to be stressed and we hope that this seminar made people aware that they are not alone if feeling stressed and that they can develop coping mechanisms.

“Ms Berg shared a list of great online resources that focus on building resilience, as below:

• 10 minute guided meditation of visual imagery:

• 9 minutes of letting go of pain/anger/anxiety:
• 3 hours of calming music:
• Body scan meditation 8.5 minutes:
• 22 mins of meditation for anxiety and negative thoughts
• 22 mins of meditation from anxiety/fear and worries:
• 1 hour of relaxing music from stress and anxiety

• Headspace looks the best for some
short videos that anyone can access for free:
• Very good for short free videos if in a stressful situation can
take a quick break to follow a guided meditation (starting from
as short as 1 minute long to control breathing), but does have
a monthly subscription.
• Spire stone app: tracks your breathing but requires you to
purchase the spire breath + activity tracker
• Calm: Good short meditations to listen to – stories/calming
music but can cost to subscribe.
• Simple Habit: Has a tier for free with more than 50 sessions
available but you have to download the app – it has a cost for subscribing.