Creating unnecessary stress: Get the stress monkey off your back

If someone told you that you are the main cause of most of your stress, then it’s highly likely you would quickly disagree with them.

This highlights the passive, subconscious nature of stress-creating activities we put ourselves through.

Stressful events that should be celebrations

Conferences, office celebrations and weddings are supposed to be enjoyable and, for the most part, they are. Unfortunately, they can also create unnecessary stress. While the aims of a wedding are completely different to that of a work event, there are some valuable lessons to learn from all these stress-provoking events.

There is a fine balance between over-micromanaging and under-preparation as well as a serious issue with delegation and fair allocation of work. As with many of these events, the work and stress often falls to one or a few who, at times, can cave in because they are not experienced at handling the excess stress and responsibilities.

Micromanagement

There is no end to the amount of refinement and detail you can create. There is often a failure to assess the situation and the negative impact we are having on ourselves, and also on those around us.

A hands-on manager or organiser who struggles to delegate will look extremely closely at every task involved in his or her project or department’s work. It consumes a lot of time and energy and often causes people around that central person to go into their shells and do less thinking for themselves.

The cycle then perpetuates and the manager continues to create more work and is now convinced that people need to be micro-managed.

Duties in this case do not get shared and the manager creates their own added stress through unnecessary micromanagement.

Not speaking up in the planning stage

For many reasons, people fail to speak up when they initially see a problem or object to something. It could be because they are afraid to disagree with a senior member of their organisation or perhaps they are just too scared that their opinion would be ridiculed.

Unfortunately we often hear such phrases from these people as:

  • “I knew that project was going to fail – it was obvious from the start”
  • “I was afraid to speak up”
  • “Nobody ever listens to me anyway”

The people who are prone to doing this are suffering from a lack of confidence – and often the problem compounds if the thought or objection isn’t aired immediately. The important thing to remember is that no matter how long something has gone unaddressed – later is better than never. Again this is a case of mounting pressure that we apply to ourselves and the natural reaction when everything falls apart is to claim prior knowledge.

Time management – busy with what and why

Successful people tend to be very good at filling in every spare minute with activity. This is also true of very ineffective people. The difference between the two is the ability to prioritise. It is easy to get swept up by an overload of plans, tasks, emails, phone calls and unnecessary follow-ups. Checking your email several hundred times a day (not an exaggeration, many people do this) and treating every one of them with equal urgency and importance will raise your stress levels very quickly. Always keep an eye on your priorities and organise everything else around them – know what you need to do and why and when!

Procrastination demons

By far the most common manifestation of creating your own stress is by procrastinating. How can it help? It can’t – it only makes things worse. It is a strange reaction to having more responsibilities – an overall shutdown in which we disengage from the task because the mounting pressure is too much. Unfortunately, this mounting pressure only increases with procrastination.

Overall – the main point you should keep in mind is that we are often our own worst enemies. By continually making sure that we are aware of our contribution and impact to our own situation we can spare ourselves a lot of pain and discomfort – and hopefully become much more effective at what we do!

Eve Ash has produced a wide range of resources and assessment tools for stress, time and effective management.

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