Think of stress like rain in a barrel.
All our different stressors — the aches & pains we wake up with, the Wi-Fi cutting out during that important client meeting, that one colleague who just doesn’t get it (just a few of many workplace stress examples) — add a few drops here and there to our barrel.
Most of us don’t notice anything’s wrong until our barrel is overflowing. Then it gets messy — we burn out, lash out, freak out, etc. — and we’re forced to mop up the mess.
Small practices of renewal and self-care start to drain that barrel little by little, such as:
- An afternoon or evening walk to disconnect from work
- Being playful and laughing with friends
- A 5-minute gratitude reflection every day
Just the awareness of these small wins is a game changer. They help us take control and become proactive before our barrel spills over.
Even better, the regular practice of filling and draining your barrel (through challenge stress and recovery) combined with the right mindset shifts (growth vs. fixed, challenge vs. threat, internal vs. external locus of control, etc.) builds our resilience to take on greater demands. When that happens, our barrel gets bigger.
Take notice of how full your barrel is throughout the day. 50 percent? 75 percent? What areas of your life are really filling your barrel, and what shifts do you need to make to keep your barrel from overflowing?
As a leader, this image can also help you to anticipate team stress and respond to team anxiety and soaring employee burnout.
Managing stress as a leader requires self-reflection and intentionality. Reflect on your own barrel, and encourage your people to do the same, taking steps to drain the drops throughout the day.