Stress and burnout will manifest themselves in a number of ways that could have a negative impact on those around you. When you are tired, exhausted and feeling critical you are more likely to snap irritably at the most innocent of bystanders. When you are overloaded and there is too much going on in your mind, you are more likely to disengage from meaningful and valuable communication with colleagues and co-workers. You may be quick to blame others when it was really not their fault and you will certainly not be in listening mode for those who have something important to say to you. The result? People are likely to become disenchanted and they might avoid you altogether. Having no-one to talk to can be very isolating.
Having a support network is always helpful but it is particularly important when you are feeling stressed. Sometimes you may just want to voice your thoughts out loud and have the other person listen, other times you may need advice or help from a peer or an expert who understands your work environment and occasionally you may even want to seek out the company of someone who is totally neutral and unbiased.
A support network does not create itself overnight – you will need to be proactive and invest your time and energy in nurturing your relationships. Here are three ways you can make sure you have a support network when you need it the most.
1. Create positive work relationships by being there for others
You often need the support of others carry out a task or to achieve certain goals. In general, how you go about getting things done makes a difference and this is where good relationships come in. Creating positive relationships has an impact on the work itself AND is beneficial for avoiding or reducing stress levels. Building good relationships means allocating time and effort to building rapport and demonstrating empathy with your colleagues and co-workers. It means being there for others and then they will be there for you when you need them.
2. Build relationships within your team so that you can work at your best
A 2014 study from Norway of 3000 managers, conducted by researchers at BI Norwegian Business School, found that managers experience significantly less stress when they feel they have a good relationship to their co-workers employees. When the employees are happy with what the manager does, understand his or her challenges and participate actively in solving the problems, the manager will have less stress. This will probably be because the manager trusts the employees more and delegates more tasks to them. Hence the work pressure will decrease. If you lead a team, openness, trust and transparency are key ingredients to making sure that you can all work at your best.
3. Strengthen your social support network outside of the office
Emotional support is an important protective factor for dealing with life’s difficulties. A 2015 survey in the US found the average stress level for those with emotional support was 5.0 out of 10, compared to 6.3 for those without such support. Bear in mind that a support network can serve a variety of purposes and so putting this together with a variety of people might make the most sense. Your network does not have to be huge and it can be just as easily be constructed with your social contacts as with work buddies. Reaching out to someone in your network, by telephone, Skype or over a coffee can be just what you need when talking to someone will make a difference.
Overall, having positive support from those around you and in your networks is exceptionally important and can enhance your resilience to stress. If you fail to take pre-emptive action you will not be prepared for the stressful times when a support network will be worth its weight in gold
Helpful tips from health experts
Working with a personal coach from The Training Box is great way to get additional support when times are stressful and busy.