Excessive stress is pervasive in the workplace today. Why are some people more affected by stress while others stay resilient? Dr. Derek Roger, author of Work Without Stress, has spent 30 years researching and observing this dynamic. His research identifies that the process of rumination, thinking over and over about events from the past or the future and attaching negative emotions to them, is a major cause of stress, and not the events themselves.
Most of us assume that life events cause stress. Many people experience a stressful boss, job, deadlines, etc. But other people on the same teams, with all of the same demands, don’t experience the same level of stress.
Everyone at work experiences pressure. But to convert pressure into stress you must add one important ingredient, rumination. Pressure is an external demand in your environment. Rumination is an internal perspective with negative feelings that create those stressful reactions.
Dr. Roger has discovered there are consistent patterns that leaders exhibit which prevent them from turning pressure into stress. Practicing these 4 steps can help one move away from rumination and toward healthier and more productive behavior.
- Wake Up!
Bring yourself back into the present moment when under pressure. The first step is to become aware of your ruminating thoughts and stop the thought pattern.
- Control Your Attention
Direct your attention onto areas you can control. How can you positively impact what’s in front of you?
Put things back in perspective. Move your attention to the big picture. What needs to happen with that larger view of the situation?
Learn the lesson and move on quickly. Rumination is not a constructive activity. As soon as you see the pattern, let it go!
With practice one can learn how to stay calm, focused, and in control, in other words, become healthier, more productive, and increasingly resilient.
©2017 Derek Roger and The Center for Creative Leadership
For further study: Work Without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success, By Derek Roger and Nick Petrie
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