Overstressed and overwhelmed

Harvard Business School suggests ways to alleviate stress to make your life less overwhelming

In any other year, the feeling of being overwhelmed can be, well, overwhelming. But with the COVID-19 pandemic dominating 2020 and poised to upend most of 2021, being overwhelmed could soon become untenable.

To help people navigate feeling underwater, Harvard Business School professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey recently wrote a book, Immunity to Change, in which they say an overwhelmed individual can experience mental slowness, forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating or thinking logically, a racing mind or an impaired ability to problem-solve, as well as be more prone to distractions.

The authors detail a few simple ways to hit a release valve of sorts for anxiety and stress:

  1. Pinpoint the source. Identifying one or two things that are causing the most stress can help you prioritize your thinking. The authors say if you are facing a big project that’s nearly complete, you should finish it and move on to the next thing. Bigger projects can be divided into smaller tasks that will seem less daunting on a daily basis.
  2. Set boundaries. To successfully set boundaries, define time limits to spend on any given task, try stopping work by a certain time or simply say “no” to certain requests. Defining boundaries will allow you to set expectations and result in fewer distractions.
  3. Challenge perfectionism. You have heard the phrase “perfect is the enemy of the good,” and it holds especially true here. Striving for perfection can add more stress to your day than necessary, which often leads to procrastination and missed deadlines. And when the missed deadlines pile up, you will feel even more overwhelmed. Accepting things will not be perfect and knowing when added time and work will only make something marginally better can pay dividends in managing stress.
  4. Outsource or delegate. In most cases, you are not the only person who can perform a given task. Many things can be taught and/or delegated to others. The authors provide examples such as delegating attending certain meetings or having a trusted team member conduct initial project reviews, for example.

Clearly, these tips are not designed to be foolproof, but employing some of them may help ease the burdens you—and many of us—carry.

Ambika Puniani Reid is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA’s vice president of communications.


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