By Cindy Tsai, MD, founder/CEO, bestselling author, physician, speaker and life coach and member of NAWBO San Diego
Are you a leader who wants your team to be the best it can be? Do you want to live your best life with ease? You must learn how to manage stress effectively and stay calm in any situation to guide your team to do the same.
A Deloitte study shows that over 90% of employees have unmanageable stress or frustration that negatively impacts the quality of their work. It’s also been reported that passion may not prevent workplace stress, which is evident as millions have left their jobs during the Great Resignation.
In order for your team and organization to perform well and maximize revenue, everyone must be working at their fullest potential. However, when we are dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, etc., it impacts our physical health and we’re not present and focused on the work at hand. These concerns contribute to high levels of stress and lead to employee disengagement/dissatisfaction, breakdowns in communication, poor company culture and ultimately, decreased performance and profits.
The problem is we’re so used to being on autopilot that we aren’t paying attention to what’s going on and how we’re feeling. People may have been struggling in silence with various mental health issues, not realizing that things could be so much better.
As a board-certified physician, bestselling author and wellness expert, I saw firsthand the impacts of chronic stress on the body and wanted to help people learn how to change things for good.
The first thing to realize is that stress is not a bad thing, as it’s a normal part of how we adapt to and navigate life. As humans, our number one goal from an evolutionary perspective is to survive. The brain helps ensure this by constantly scanning our surroundings to see if there are any threats to respond to.
Today, we are no longer being chased by predators but rather our threats and stressors have been replaced with things like giving feedback, requesting a raise or speaking in public. With this perceived stress, the brain activates our sympathetic nervous system or the “fight-or-flight” response.
In this state, the body releases chemicals like the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. And then you may experience sensations in your body like tense shoulders, fluttering in your stomach or tightness in your chest, all of which can lead to pain and anxiety, which often lead to more stress, which leads to more pain and anxiety, and so on.
When you don’t feel well, you’re not able to access your true potential and may say or do things you regret later. We often ignore the symptoms until it’s unbearable and then our performance suffers and we may even let people down. So we must learn to break this self-perpetuating cycle in order to be well and function at our best.
The good news is it’s possible to change. The studies on neuroplasticity show that the brain is always creating new nerve pathways and we can rewire the brain for the better. The key is to practice mindfulness, or the process of paying attention to the present moment without judgment.
Here are some quick ways to practice mindfulness to decrease stress and feel better.
1 Breathe. Did you know that specific breathing techniques can bring you immense calm? Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system (which counters the sympathetic/fight-or-flight response so that you can feel more relaxed). When you put your focus on your breath, each inhale and exhale, you are bringing awareness to your body and the present moment. Try the simple 4-6 breathing technique where you inhale through the nose for a count of 4, and exhale through the mouth for a count of 6. Repeat this for 3 rounds and see how you feel after.
2) Visualize. Did you know that the brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real vs. imagined? Take a moment and close your eyes to imagine what it would be like if you were able to stay calm in any situation. Get clear on who you have to be, believe, feel and do. Repeat and embody this until it becomes your reality.
Know that it’s possible to improve your mental wellness with practice and support. When you are well yourself, you show up as the best version of you and inspire others to be the best they can be. If you want your organization to thrive, learn to master stress and create your own calm in any situation.
About the Author…
Dr. Cindy Tsai is a board-certified internal medicine physician in San Diego, California. Cindy served as a primary care physician and medical director for years before transitioning into entrepreneurship to make a bigger impact empowering people to take control of their health through both conventional and complementary modalities. She earned B.A. and M.S. degrees from Johns Hopkins University and her M.D. from Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Through her own healing journey, she has explored and trained in a wide range of therapeutic modalities and emphasizes wellness and caring for the person as a whole. Today, she is a founder/CEO, bestselling author, physician, speaker and life coach. Cindy can be reached at email@example.com or via social media @cindytsaimd. Learn more here.