Under pressure?

It's the standard way of the world right now. What I'm talking about is when occasional stress becomes chronic stress. When it's impossible to get off the emotional roller coaster. That's the time for concern.

Sure, we've been taught that some stress is good. it keeps us on our toes. You know, like that needed spike in adrenaline when you're going to present your newest idea, or give someone feedback that's not all that much fun. That level of stress helps you stay strong and present.

Under constant pressure?

Not so good. That's when you lose objectivity. After the office procrastinator, once again, promises but doesn't deliver. Or your boss asks you to stay late, "just this last time." Or the passive aggressive jerk you wish you had never hired says, in front of everyone, "I told you we were meeting and put it on the schedule and I guess you just didn't listen"  even though you know nothing was ever put on the schedule.

The first line of defense, more times than not, is the knee jerk reaction to blame or find an ally who will do the blaming for you. Yet, that's never enough to really change chronic frustration.

The cycle will continue until you take charge of the toxic emotions underneath the chronic stress.

Here's what happens when stress is out of hand.You tend to stay hyper-vigilant with tight muscles, sweaty palms and underarms. Breathing and heart rate are elevated and headache or nausea become your constant companions.

This vicious cycle begins to impair thinking and even social skills start to suffer. Simple problems become major life or death issues.

I witnessed this first hand when I was fourteen years old, this power of chronic stress to destroy. My father would come home from a day at the office beyond frazzled. There were so many fires to put out,so many arguments to control. And then one day he said to my mother, "I'm done." No one knew, at that moment, how prophetic this statement was. You see, that night he died from a massive heart attack brought on by the killer of chronic stress.

In my work as an executive coach, I consider treating chronic stress and breaking this destructive cycle a priority. It's a personal mission, having lived through the fear and pain of a loss that felt so unnecessary.

Three areas of vital importance:

                  * Self awareness: What are the triggers that start the build-up of the stress? The best executive coaching includes guiding individuals to observe and understand the underlying reasons for the constant stress.

                 *Self control: The hard work (consider it strength training) to transform outdated ways of responding with new communication techniques for emotional self control.

                 *Self appreciation: No excuses accepted. Create a schedule for time to relax and rejuvenate. Remember, you are not the only one to make sure the work gets done. Think of it this way "A hungry waiter makes a very poor server."

The key to eliminating the destructive enemy of chronic stress and make work more positive and productive is to take responsibility for your own self care. You are responsible for taming and transforming the demons that cause stress to get out of hand. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your family.