Full-time MBA participants Valerie De Clerck and Kaushlendra Trivedi share their stress-busting takeaways from the second Wisdom Principles activity series organised by Vlerick alumni that might just help you work, play and sleep a little better.
We all have to deal with stress. In our fast-moving, hyper-connected and data-driven world, we’ve come to accept a certain amount of stress as part and parcel of daily life. But with research suggesting that in Belgium alone, one in five people will suffer a burnout in their thirties, isn’t it time we took stress a bit more seriously?
Willemijn Van Dommelen, CEO of HR consultancy PRR gave a talk to Vlerick alumni earlier this year. In the audience were Full-time MBA participants Valerie De Clerck and Kaushlendra Trivedi. Here they share their top 10 takeaways from Willemijn’s presentation on how to neutralise the effects of stress and build the mental resilience to thrive in your personal and professional life.
1. Set realistic expectations
Let’s say you’re an ambitious professional, an entrepreneur or an aspiring CEO. The chances are you will have some challenging targets in your sights. But it’s important to take a step back and assess your goals. Ask yourself honestly how realistic they are, and how you will feel if you don’t manage to achieve them all. Being honest with yourself and measured in your expectations can save you from a world of stress further down the line.
2. Curb those impulses
Do you jump at a problem immediately? Do you act before you’ve had time to really think something through? Responding impulsively can feel good in the moment, but taking the time to evaluate situations and their potential outcomes usually leads to better results – and a whole lot less stress for you in the long run. Next time you face a business or personal challenge, why not pause, take a deep breath and make the effort to apply your full conscious awareness to the situation? Taking control of yourself, of your mental and physical faculties, can lead to better control of problems and a reduced margin for mistakes or failure.
3. Remember that imperfect is perfect
And talking of mistakes and failure… In life and in business, getting it wrong from time to time is absolutely inevitable. Nobody is perfect and mistakes are in fact a perfect opportunity to learn and to grow in all kinds of ways. Try to let go of the idea of perfection, and embrace your own imperfection as the idea path to personal and professional development.
4. Disconnect to connect
In today’s hyper-digitised world we are constantly using devices and apps to communicate. But how deep or tangible are the connections we have with others (and with ourselves) online? Relationships –both personal and professional – are built on complex, social and emotional exchange and interconnection that only comes from real, face-to-face communication.
Hyper-connectivity also builds towards information overload which is a major source of stress. So it’s important to take time off, disconnect your laptop or smartphone and connect better with yourself and with other people. Why not try it? Switch off your phone once you’ve read this blog post, and reflect on these tips. See how calm and centred it makes you feel.
5. Work on your empathy
Because human relationships are built on complex emotional interchange, there’s always the possibility of conflict and of things breaking down. A really good way of building better, more collaborative relationships is to work on your empathy. Putting yourself proactively in someone else’s shoes helps you understand their perspective and see the bigger picture. And broadening your perspective not only helps you manage conflict and the stress that comes with it – it’s a key function of the kind of leadership development that will help drive your career.
When was the last time you laughed? How good did it make you feel? Laughter is a huge stress-buster and boosts our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Try to be more open to finding the humour in everyday life. And if you feel cautious or guarded about letting go in different situations, why not take a look at this TED Talk by Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability for tips on how to open up?
7. Be objective
You can’t get through life without disagreeing with other people or encountering criticism from time to time. Learning to build objectivity and not to take things overly personally will help you find emotional balance and enhance your critical thinking capabilities. It will also empower you to feel less pessimistic about challenges, colleagues or situations in your daily life.
8. Be grateful
Being grateful is another great antidote to pessimism. Take the time every day to focus on the positive things in your life. Reflect on the things that give you strength, sustenance and support and make the time to feel grateful for them.
9. Step into the stretch zone once in a while
As the old adage goes, success doesn’t just come, you have to earn it. And there’s no substitute for putting in the time and effort to push yourself to achieve more. Stepping out of your comfort zone and into the stretch zone regularly can also help you combat stress, as you learn and accomplish more and discover understanding, talents and aptitudes that you may not realise you possess.
10. Stick with it
Building the kind of emotional and mental resilience to manage stress and avoid feeling burnt out takes time. Experts believe it takes around 110 days to reboot your thinking and adopt new habits. So make the conscious effort to practice these tips and build them into your daily routines, and stick with it.
You’ll be happy you did.