Feeling stressed? Take five.

We’ve been noticing in our consulting work that people are feeling increasingly stressed out. When we are alone with leaders and ask “how are you doing?”, it’s common for them to sit back and pause before saying “I’m feeling quite overwhelmed.” “There’s just so much change.” “It’s hard to work out where to prioritise my time and energy.”

Some stress is good. In a TED talk that’s had over 13 million views, Kelly McGonigal talks about new research that suggests that stress is only bad for you if you believe that to be the case. She urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces reaching out to others as a powerful stress reduction mechanism.

What can you do to keep stress at a healthy level? We are big fans of the Five Ways to Wellbeing. They’ve been robustly researched and the NZ Mental Health Foundation has adopted them.

For leaders, we recommend building these five ways into your daily leadership practices:

1. Connect – take time to connect with people at work and outside work

2. Give – when you’re with people give them your full attention; notice people’s contributions and acknowledge them

3. Take notice – how are others around you? Take time to check in

4. Keep learning – make time to learn. It doesn’t have to be work related – refresh your brain with something new

5. Be active – how can you include more activity at work e.g. standing or walking meetings?

The NZ Mental Health Foundation has a Five Ways to Wellbeing Best Practice Guide (https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/assets/Five-Ways-downloads/mentalhealth-5waysBP-web-single-2015.pdf) and some free resources on their webstore (http://shop.mentalhealth.org.nz/product/new