Chocolate Pillow | Stress – it’s not all about you!
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Stress – it’s not all about you!

20 Jan Stress – it’s not all about you!

Stress is something that everyone encounters, but have you ever thought beyond yourself when considering the effects of stress?

Some people thrive in a world of stress, using certain types of stress to drive them on and push them forward.  I am one of these people – I like to have a certain level of mild stress.  When systems go slowly or demand get too high, my stress level rises because I feel at loss of control and in turn get more stressed because I cannot keep working at 100 miles an hour!  I like to have something to keep the adrenalin going, but not too much to annoy me!  Some people like more stress than this and some people like no stress at all (they like to bob along with no drama in life!).

One thing that has come to me recently, is how actually my level of stress that I work at, can effect this around me.  Take a normal working day – I like to work at 100 miles an hour, and go non stop, often doing several things at once.  I can be checking guests out, answering the phone, preparing staff roots and also processing deposit payments all at the same time on different screens.  This is normal for me.  I like to absolutely hammer my work out and get it done so that I know I can escape a bit later in the day and take time out on a break without worrying about the pile of work to go back to.  This level of speed at which I work is alien to many, and only a few people I work with can keep up with me.  Some people however are extremely happy to just mull along and deal with whatever comes up in front of them.  I like to be prepared and have everything out of the way as soon as possible, others like to just wait and see what happens.  And herein lies half of the issue that many people encounter.

Ask anyone i work with and they will tell you that because I work at 100 miles an hour, if the system crashes or hangs or something stops working quickly enough (or as is usually the case, stops working entirely), then my stress level hits the roof and I become extremely agitated – swearing, wanting to punch inanimate objects and outbursts of ‘aaarrrggghhhh’ will often follow.  Then thats it.  I stress out like the hulk for a minute or two and then normal service resumes.  I just walk it off or shout/swear it out of me!  This works for me and works for many others too.  But what about everyone else.

How many times have you actually thought about how your stresses actually affect those around you?  Now take me… you walk in to work to me stressing out and screaming at a computer – how does that make you feel straight away?  No doubt you will be anxious, get a bit wound up and instinctively you will become more aware and stressed.  Your body will react with the release of hormones and chemicals such as adrenalin and cortisol.  You have NO CHOICE over your body releasing these (think on a very primal level – you as a primate return to home to find a member of your tribe screaming and punching something – on a primal level your body is unaware what is going on so you prepare for flight or fight!)

Now think of the impact this has on your team – they walk in and straight away are on edge, slightly stressed and ready for flight or fight.  They are chemically stressed out by the release of adrenalin etc, and even though you have calmed down, they are still on edge.  That means that the slightest stressor that occurs (such as an angry guest, poor system speed or similar), that person with you is already agitated and becomes in turn even more agitated and liable to lash out.

Do you see my point?  You being stressed in turn stresses out those around you.  Whilst you feel stressed, the people around you end up on edge through no fault of their own, and that means they are more liable to feel stressed out.  Then they in turn become more agitated and wound up and so the cycle continues…..

It is essential that you learn to manage your own stress, and there are many things you can do to help although the most important is regular breaks and breathers!  Take a step away from work every now and then, zone in to something else, district yourself with a quick game on your phone in the loo, or a chat with a colleague whilst making a brew.

One thing I have learnt – my stress makes others stressed and in turn harder for me to manage as I am then dealing with my stress and theirs; it can erode a team and make everyone start annoying each other.  Now I try to remind myself to smile through it; accept the inevitable and accept that I cannot control everything and nor does everyone operate at the same speed as me.  When in doubt, smile, breathe and in the words of that oh so annoying song… Let it Go!

(I would like to apologise for now getting that damn song stuck in your head on a permanent loop for the next few minutes, hours or days!  At least its better then Manah Manah….doo doo d-do-do!)

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Matt Shiells-Jones
matt@chocolatepillow.com

Husband, Author, Hotel Manager and ambitious 'old cat lady'



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