STRESS LESS

Im­prove your re­silience at work. Me­lanie Burgess re­ports

The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Front Page -

E VERY job has its busy days but some roles take stress to the next level, with high pres­sure and high stakes.

In th­ese, work de­ci­sions can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life or death, a scoop or a law suit, and com­pany suc­cess or the wrath of an­gry share­hold­ers.

Men­tal health or­gan­i­sa­tion Heads Up says causes of work­place stress can be re­lated to the spe­cific role or more broadly to work hours or com­pany cul­ture.

Con­tribut­ing fac­tors in­clude work­ing over­time or not tak­ing meal breaks, con­flict with col­leagues or man­agers, bul­ly­ing, and work that is emo­tion­ally dis­turb­ing or re­quires high emo­tional in­volve­ment.

A US re­port based on 11 fac­tors rang­ing from the po­ten­tial of bod­ily harm to the level of public scru­tiny re­veals the most stress­ful jobs are those of en­listed mil­i­tary per­son­nel, fire­fight­ers, air­line pi­lots and po­lice of­fi­cers but also event co-or­di­na­tors, news­pa­per re­porters, se­nior cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives, public re­la­tions ex­ec­u­tives, taxi driv­ers and broad­cast­ers.

The Men­tal Tough­ness Train­ing Cen­ter founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Andrew Wittman draws on his pre­vi­ous ca­reers as a US Marine and spe­cial agent when pre­sent­ing on topics of re­silience and pres­sure.

He says the best ad­vice for man­ag­ing stress, whether in a mil­i­tary or cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ment, is to ad­dress sleep, nu­tri­tion and fit­ness.

“Cor­ti­sol, the hor­mone that makes us stressed out, gets us out of whack if our sleep is out,” he says.

“(With cor­po­rate clients) I make them log their sleep hours and send it to me ev­ery day. Nu­tri­tional and wa­ter in­take is also im­por­tant. We all know an Oreo is prob­a­bly not the most help­ful choice.

“As far as fit­ness, you don’t have to be a cross-fit­ter but get out for a 10-minute walk each day and it will help bal­ance your hor­mones.”

When ad­dress­ing a spe­cific stress – such as be­ing asked to shorten a dead­line or add an ex­tra task to an al­ready over­crowded sched­ule – Wittman rec­om­mends ad­her­ing to “the two-minute rule”.

“Sus­pend your dis­be­lief for two min­utes,” he says. “Say to your­self ‘OK it’s im­pos­si­ble but if it were pos­si­ble, how would I do it?’

“If you ask a bad ques­tion you are go­ing to get a bad an­swer. In­stead of ask­ing ‘Why am I so stressed out?’ a bet­ter ques­tion would be ‘How can I han­dle pres­sure bet­ter?’

“The body acts the same way in com­bat as in traf­fic so you need to learn how to get this un­der con­trol.”

Pic­ture: DY­LAN ROBIN­SON

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