Stress is our response to external stimulation or a change in environment. Engineers use the word stress when evaluating the amount of weight or stress placed on a bridge. If the bridge can handle a certain level of stress it has passed its ‘stress test.’
Each of us has a certain tolerance or capacity for stress. Stress can be an agent for good when we are getting ready for an important event – think about the last time you spoke in public – you likely encountered stress. Just last week, my family was hiking in Yellowstone and our bodies were under stress, which was quite strengthening.
However, for most leaders too much stress can lead to burnout and even physical issues such as heart attack and stroke. Many executives are resigning from leadership roles because the stress is too great.
It takes self-awareness and courage to admit you are stressed out. How do you assess stress? One clever acronym by Rook, Florent-Treacy and Kets de Vries, is useful. The acronym is A.P.G.A.R.
Many stress assessments are self-reported and may lead to self-deception. However, using this model may support your ability to assess your stress level.
Appearance – this includes sleep, physical state and weight. This could also include your overall physical health
Performance – the ability to complete your assigned job duties in a timely and accurate fashion
Growth and self-development – are you investing in yourself and gaining skill?
Affect Management – showing the proper emotion at the right time and being understood
Relationships – isolated or not connecting in your key primary relationships
How are you doing in these areas?
Rank each of them and outline an action step for your lowest two to ensure you are managing stress and mitigating burnout.