Six tips for managing stress


Staying calm in the face of pressure is a key quality for procurement professionals, many of whom face stress in their everyday working lives.

As Supply Leaders points out, being involved in daily negotiations, planning and management of supply, as well as company spend, is no small thing. The responsibilities and challenges are bound to weigh in on the best of people at times.

We know stress can be good for us because it gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us firing on all cylinders at work. Well managed stress can help us to reach our targets, motivate teams and achieve results. It doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

However, there are times when we can feel overloaded and rather than enjoy the challenges, we see our work and relationships suffer. If left unmanaged, what we see as too much stress could start to affect our mental and physical health.

From trainee through to the most experienced procurement head, learning how to make stress work for rather than against us is a must.

Here are six tips for dealing with it:

1. Change your viewpoint

An ultimate aim should be to see stress as a potential friend rather than enemy.

Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays says those who see stress in a positive light have a different physical reaction to those who see it negatively. While research has shown that the heart rate in both groups will increase, our blood vessels dilate when we see stress as positive, allowing more oxygen to our muscles and brain, but constrict if we see the stress as a problem, cutting off the very fuel we need to function properly.

From a simple self supporting point of view, aiming to see stress as an opportunity and not a problem will help us all.

2. Step away from your monitor/phone/desk/colleagues

Staying glued to a desk all day when we’re under pressure can lead to burnout for even the most capable of people. However hard it may be to do, taking small regular breaks gives us the chance to get away from the monitor, breathe some fresh air and let thoughts percolate around our brains without interruption.

The chances are you will be more productive and achieve better results because you’ve allowed yourself to recharge a little. Aim for at least 30 minutes away from your desk at lunchtimes and regular walking breaks around the office, or even better, outside the building, throughout the day.

3. Moderate alcohol and caffeine

While a few cups of caffeinated coffee a day and the odd glass of wine at night are unlikely to do harm, it’s not unheard of for anyone to slip into the habit of drinking a bit more of either when the pressure is on.

Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase adrenalin levels, which if you need a little boost in the morning, or to face a long meeting, may be a good thing. But if you’re twitching at night, unable to sleep thanks to a few too many coffees, this won’t help your stress levels the next day.

Vary your refreshments with fruit and herbal teas, decaffeinated coffees or bottled or cooler machine water. The variety is there, so enjoy the change and see what a difference it makes.

4. Take your holidays

Research suggests that around 69% of procurement professionals take their full leave entitlement each year, which means there are another 31% presumably not taking all theirĀ  holidays.

As Ann Francke of the Chartered Management Institute says: ‘Nobody can perform at their best without proper breaks and that means making time to switch off and recharge the batteries. The key is to work smarter, not harder, but that’s easier said than done.’

5. Go on training

Going on training courses gives you not only the chance to meet up with and discuss relevant issues with your counterparts across the UK, but can also help you to recognise and build your strengths in a whole host of areas. This will help you to feel calmer, more in control and approach your role even more successfully.

CIPS offer a whole range of strategic and practical training courses.

6. Read all about it (in print)

From self help through to motivational books or novels, reading can give us a good source of support and inspiration.

But reading a paper book may be more relaxing than reading a screen before falling asleep. While the temptation to scroll the screens of our Smartphones and tablets is ever present, it may not help us when a constant stream of social media and news can feel like information overload and the blue screens shining onto our retinas might affect our ability to sleep well.

There could be an argument for retreating back to good old paper books last thing at night, especially if you’re working at a screen for much of your working day.

Whether it is advice on tackling any demons that may be getting in the way of your role, routes to achieving optimum results at work or a classic piece of fiction, there will be a book out there for you.

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