Success can be isolating. The more you accomplish and the higher you move up the totem pole, the harder it is to connect to others. That's not to say that people aren't around--it's just more difficult to relate. With more power comes more responsibility, and, at a certain point, very few people understand what you're going through--so you internalize it.
It's a bigger issue than you think. According to WebMD:
- 43 percent of all adults suffer from stress
- 75-90 percent of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints
- Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually
If you're like me, the thought of dealing with stress often leads to more stress. That anxiety leads to inaction.
If you're starting to feel the pressure build up, a study on the benefits of mentorship offers an inexpensive yet effective solution to managing stress.
In short, the experiment followed police officers in England and Wales as they partook in a mentorship program designed to develop junior officers. We all recognized how significant a relationship like this could be for mentees, but surprisingly, the research also showed that mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety and described their jobs as more meaningful. Why? Taking on a mentee would seem to only add more responsibility and stress.
Here are two main takeaways from the research. I've added my personal experience to each. Mentorship can help because:
1. It's an avenue for discussing and normalizing concerns
The higher up you are, the greater the pressure is to have everything figured out and to always seem "put-together." In an effort to maintain that perception and distance one's self from the negative label associated with mental health disorder, many leaders choose to suppress the feeling of angst rather than express it.
Like many things, that hardest part is just starting the conversation. Mentorship creates a safe space for mentors to voice their anxieties and discuss their feelings underneath the umbrella of a mutually trusting and beneficial relationship. It's a platform for sharing insecurities and forming bonds through common struggle. Which is a great segue to...
2. It offers acknowledgment that anxiety is universal
There's a tendency to think you're the only one suffering from feelings of stress and anxiety. For fear of sticking out or seeming unbalanced, many never express their concerns and try and fight their battles with anxiety alone.
However, if you can get past the awkwardness, you'll soon find out that most people are going through similar situations that you can relate to and learn from. In my experience, just voicing concerns is therapeutic in itself.
Once they realized they weren't alone, the research showed that officers were more willing to be open and honest about their anxieties and discuss different ways to cope.
It's tough being a manager. If you let it, the pressure and stress can build up and lead to early burnout. You're not alone. Mentorship provides a great avenue to get these feelings out in the open and to learn from others' battles.