I think we can all agree that stress is a BIG topic right now.
If we just look at the past two years, stress has been at the forefront of our minds. Whether it’s simply managing working from home, homeschooling, balancing work and life or the cost of living going up. I think we can all agree that it’s been a stressful few years.
Now let’s add in the everyday stress in sales that we can all feel in our roles everyday.
Working towards deadlines.
Making sure that our managers or our teams are happy.
It’s a balancing act on its own.
Then taking into account the Christmas season.
Christmas is meant to be a time of year when we can start to relax, spend time with our family and friends, and just press reset on the year.
However, when you work in sales, it can be an added stress.
You have less time to hit targets for the end of the year.
You also might have to think about how you’re going to hit your target when you come back from your Christmas break.
It can be overwhelming.
Stress isn’t something to ignore. It has a profound effect on your physical health, your ability to process information and can directly impact your performance.
Let’s break that down.
The Impact Of Stress On The Body
Stress isn’t a new experience, it’s been around since man first walked on this earth, when we were hunters and gatherers.
It’s previously kept us safe with the fight or flight response (which is an automatic physiological and psychological reaction to a perceived threat).
The fight or flight response essentially automatically primes our body to either run away or fight a potential threat.
Which is great when you need to run away from or fight a sabre-tooth tiger.
However, with the stressors that we face today, we’re rarely in situations where it’s either possible or appropriate to do either.
Also, our stress responses would have been limited when we were hunters and gathers. We may have only been in the fight or flight response for seconds, possibly upwards of an hour infrequently through our lifetime.
However, our stress today isn’t lasting seconds, minutes or even an hour. Our stress can last days, weeks, months or even years.
This has a massive impact on our bodies.
Decrease our digestion.
Leaving us with digestive issues (for instance, allergies, intolerances, IBS, IBD). All of which will lower energy levels and cause significant discomfort.
Decrease our immune response.
This is becoming a huge issue for a lot of people in the UK. Not only is absenteeism increasing, but so is presenteeism.
Having a decreased immune system can leave you to get sick more frequently or potentially be sick for longer periods of time.
Suffering from prolonged stress can increase inflammation within the body. This inflammation has been linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and even Depression.
Stress isn’t just a mental health issue, it really does impact our physical health in significant ways.
How Can Stress Impact Our Ability To Process Information?
Have you ever tried to solve a really complex problem when you’ve been under a significant amount of stress for a prolonged period of time?
I would hazard a guess that it was near impossible.
Chronic stress directly impacts our cognitive functions making it more difficult to solve problems, pay attention and recall memories, all of which will directly affect our ability to process new information.
What does stress do to our performance?
What does all this mean to our performance?
Well, chronic stress can dramatically affect our ability to perform at work or even show up the way we want to at home.
When someone has been under chronic stress for a prolonged period of time, they physically won’t feel well, they will struggle to take in new information, make decisions and be unable to effectively problem solves, all of which will directly impact their performance.
This is why it is so important for people to really ensure that they are taking care of themselves!
So What Can We Do?
Check-in With Yourself.
It’s really easy to push past stress into chronic stress by saying things like “oh, once I get to Christmas, I will relax” without realising you’re at (or even past) exhaustion.
So, check in with yourself.
Ask yourself from 1-10 how you’re doing (1 being awful, 10 being amazing).
If you’re below an 8, ask yourself what would help you get closer to a 10.
Self-awareness is the first step in managing stress.
I’ve seen countless people simply push past normal stress and enter chronic stress without realising it.
Get Enough Sleep!
This is a BIG one for a lot of people.
One-third of people in the Western world aren’t getting enough sleep. That is a HUGE portion of people.
We need at least 7-9 hours of GOOD quality sleep a night.
Many people in the Western world are getting 6 hours or less a night.
Sleep can directly impact our ability to process emotions, which can increase the likelihood of suffering from stress.
Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
Two things that will dramatically improve your sleep quality are:
Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least 10 hours before you plan to go to bed.
Don’t drink alcohol for at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
Both of these substances dramatically impact our sleep quality.
Set Clear Boundaries.
Be honest with yourself when it comes to work-life balance.
It’s really easy to create unsustainable and unrealistic habits in times of stress.
We can start slowly increasing the number of hours we work (they may not be productive, but we’re still switched on, which increases our mental load).
Working in sales isn’t typically a 9-5 kind of job. However, you need to protect yourself so you don’t fall into the trap of working extreme hours that are just not sustainable.
Be strict with the times that you start and finish work.
That includes when you first check your emails/social media/messages etc and when you stop.
These are really simple tips to help you manage stress and prevent burnout.
Just remember, if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you’re not alone. In those moments it can be best to take a step back for a few minutes to give yourself a breather to recalibrate yourself.