There have been times in my life when things have started to feel out of control. Of course I mean this relatively speaking since I’ve never had to endure any serious hardship – my issues are the proverbial “first world problems”.
But there are days when I wake up and start to think about what I need to tackle and my stomach just clenches. I’m an internalizer when it comes to stress so unless you really know me, you will not be able to tell that I’m screaming inside my head.
This is what stress can look like:
Pretty scary, huh?
What my calm demeanor and smile don’t reveal are all the hives that appeared overnight and my inability to digest thing properly. Frequent blinking also hid my twitching eye and I’m “fortunate” enough to get some weird variation of migraines, in which I’m not in pain, but my entire left cheek feels like its been slapped so hard it’s gone numb.
True story: I was once reprimanded for NOT looking stressed enough (apparently my calm demeanor implied I did not think the issue was serious). Yes, because I was not losing my shit in a more visible or “conventional” way, I obviously didn’t care about what’s going on.
This morning I stood beside my son as we waited for his luggage to be searched before heading off on a school camping trip and I quietly asked him if he was okay. He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders – the universal sign for “Mom, please.” I reassured him it will all be cool once they get going and he will feel better.
Because it was obvious to me that he was nervous and, as a kid that likes to know what going to happen next, a bit stressed. It was obvious because of how he held himself and how he was covertly watching what others were doing. However, to everyone else – he was fine and maybe even bored.
Seeing this made my stomach clench harder and I smiled at him.
Have you ever taken the time to notice what your employees/colleagues are like when things are going well and not-so-well. Notice a difference?
Sometimes, it’s very minimal.
Don’t assume that because someone is calm and collected that they aren’t stressed out.
And don’t mistake (over) reaction for passion.