In such a fast paced, 24/7 world, how do we keep ourselves motivated and stress free? By Janice Haddon, Managing Director of Morgan Redwood.
The truth is, none of us will ever be completely stress free. Having deadlines and feeling under a little pressure to achieve, is what can get us out of bed in the morning. Keeping ourselves in a good place is like fitting together a number of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The stress response – or ‘fight, flight or freeze’, is when our body automatically rises to the challenge to support us dealing with the task in hand. As if by magic our body releases a whole cascade of hormones to help us. The main purpose is to produce a burst of energy to allow us to deal with the situation in hand – whether that is a report that needs completing, delivering that all important presentation, getting through the scary interview – whatever it is, our body automatically does what it can to help get through it.
Part of this automatic response however, is the adrenal gland releasing transmitters that results in the production of the hormone cortisol – that increases our blood pressure, blood sugar and also suppresses our immune system. In the short term that can help us get through the immediate challenge but in the long term, with too much and prolonged stress however our system can become fatigued. Prolonged stress is linked to high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours and obesity. Not good!
So how do we deal with it? To be able to cope with whatever comes our way means we need our own personal mechanism for building up our inner resilience levels. Whilst we will all be coming at it from our own unique starting point, there are some fundamentals.
Exercise is the best thing we can do – often the last thing we feel like doing – either because we are tired or just simply running out of time – but exercise is the fundamental thing that will help us cope. Being active releases endorphins – our natural happy hormones that help to counter balance all the negative ones flying around in our system. Whilst we might not be able to fit in a run at lunch time (and for many of us that won’t be the exercise that floats our boat, it will be something else!) – in the work environment and throughout the day, it is important to get up and move! Being chained to your desk will actually restrict your energy levels and negatively impact on your concentration.
The next thing we need is a healthy diet and plenty of water to help flush out the toxins from our system. Vitamin B plays a vital role in dealing with ‘stress’ so make sure you are getting enough – things like spinach is a great source. There are also lots of other foods that can help keep us out of the ‘red’ zone. Keep away from processed carbohydrates (yes – white bread is out of the window I’m afraid!) and go for foods that will support your natural relaxation and boost your energy. Make sure you have plenty of green leafy veg, turkey, salmon, nuts and seeds –all the things that are great sources of nutrients,
Keep your sugar and caffeine intake down to a reasonable level – when we have an energy slump we naturally reach for a tea or coffee, biscuits or chocolate. Instead have a range of healthy snacks – the protein from a handful of nuts for example will give you prolonged energy rather than the sugar rush from a bar of chocolate that will leave you slumped again in no time. In your weekly schedule, build in time for rest, relaxation and down time. We all need a balance and building time in your week for hobbies and connecting with friends is also a key piece of the puzzle. By looking after yourself in all of those things your will keep your personal resilience levels up. As a team player you can also keep an eye on your colleagues and help them to also keep off the slippery stress slope.
Janice Haddon has over 25 years’ experience in strategic and operational human resources and management consultancy. Working across a range of sectors and with start-ups to top 20 companies, Janice is a qualified coach and has a passion for integrating strong leadership and high performance with personal positivity and wellbeing. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, an MA in Psychotherapy and an MBA from Henley Management College, Janice is also a Master Practitioner in NLP, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy Counsellor. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Organisational Health and Wellbeing and is Managing Director of both Morgan Redwood and Thrive in Life 360.