Stress – how the blokes handle it!

March 1, 2016

Stress – how the blokes handle it!

Stress, it’s an unavoidable part of daily life but it’s how we deal with it that counts. I caught up with the Blokes About Town for their take on stress, how it affects them and how they keep it under control.

It’s no surprise our increasingly busy lifestyle has seen our stress levels rise considerably during the past 10 years, particularly with the explosion of social media keeping us continually plugged in! In fact, stress has been called the health epidemic of the 21st century by the World Health Organisation and costs businesses billions of dollars a year. But it’s important to remember that not all stress is bad. Managed stress makes us productive, happy and keeps us on our toes, mismanaged stress can lead to a host of health problems both physical and emotional.  Fortunately we have also come a long way when it comes to recognising and managing stress and a growing number of men and women are turning to mindfulness and meditation to find that elusive balance. I recently caught up with a group of savvy businessmen to wax lyrical about the age old problem over a delicious lunch at the Palmwoods Hotel and what I discovered was very enlightening to say the least. Co-hosting the lunch was business development manager with Think Money Craig Levitt, joining us was Warren Tegg, senior solicitor with Bennett Carroll and Andy Whitmore, owner of Our Community Broadband.

profile: On a scale of one to 10 what is your stress level right now?
craig: That’s a difficult one because it varies day-to-day. I would say at the moment a six or seven. It really does depend on the time of year too. Towards the end of the year I am really looking forward to a break because I work in marketing so I need to be creative. Towards the end of the year the creative juices are running low so it doesn’t flow as well then your stress levels go up due to frustration!
warren: Within the last fortnight I am at a six or a seven. I find the same thing happens towards the end of the year, my stress levels tend to go up as everyone wants everything done before Christmas.
andy: My stress levels are fairly high at the moment as we are going through a huge period of growth in our business. The last two months have seen us explode. We have huge customer expectations we now need to deliver on and it needs to be outstanding. It has also been pretty stressful moving my family from the UK recently.

profile: What catalysts spike your stress levels?
craig: My stress comes from my own internal pressure to produce good work. It’s a direct result of my own self-judgement. With most of us, stress is self created, it’s how we think about what we are going through.
warren: Anyone who has high standards will always have a certain level of stress. We are also probably affected to some extent by people who have unrealistic expectations.
andy: My stress levels come from being a perfectionist. I also take things quite personally, people say you shouldn’t, but if you care, you just do. If things are not quite right or a customer is not happy first time, I find that phenomenally stressful and everyone around me knows too.

Grilled Barramundi from Palmwoods Hotel
Grilled Barramundi from Palmwoods Hotel

profile: How does stress affect your personality?
andy: It depends on the situation and who I’m dealing with. If I’m dealing with people who should know better and they can take criticism it can be quite an abrupt response. But broadly I am trying to take 10 seconds before I respond and be more considered. It comes with age.
craig: I deal with stress internally. It takes a fair bit for me to get outwardly angry. I tend to shut down and go within.
warren: I’m the opposite, I’m a completely emotional animal. If I stand up at my desk and I’m on the phone, look out!

profile: What methods do you use to cope with stress?
warren: I did an extensive amount of mediation training in the late ‘80s when it was new. I learned a lot about my personality and other personalities, it was very helpful. I also took up yoga a year-and-a-half ago and I love it. I do two separate classes every week, one is high intensity and the other is stretching, meditation and relaxation. Breathing control is a big part of yoga. I can now control my breathing at the desk when I become stressed.
craig: I practice and teach mindfulness, which is the Western word for meditation. I had always wanted to try it because I have a busy mind but like many people I failed the first time. A couple of years ago I had a friend who wanted to get into the corporate space to promote more stillness and calm in the office and I helped him to deliver some programs. I then did an eight-week course in stress reduction and I loved it so much I started running some free classes on the Coast and we have now started doing it at work for the same reasons.
warren: It can be hard at the start, but once you become aware that you can do it, you can actually control your emotional and physical responses pretty quickly. It’s not like you need to be in a zen state for 10 minutes. Most of us also breathe too quickly! My sister who is a bit of a zen master has been telling me for 10 years to breathe and I finally get it now!
andy: Apart from a bottle of wine you mean! No seriously what is quite refreshing in Australia is the openness. I would never sit across the table in front of two businessmen and women and talk about stress and meditation and yoga, in the UK they would say, ‘what do you mean you’re stressed, get over it’; so I am very early in my journey.

Anyone who has high standards will always have a certain level of stress.”

profile: Do you think men and women deal with stress differently?
craig: I don’t think it’s really that different from male to female but more person to person. Generally you have people who flow their stress out, which some will tell you is more healthy and those who stay quiet and keep it in, which is worse because it comes out physiologically.  I am the latter but I know the benefits of people being able to explode.
warren: I agree 100 per cent. It’s a personality thing and not a gender thing.
andy: I think it is a personality thing too. The only generalisation I would make is historically women are more considered in their response to stressful situations so I don’t understand why there aren’t more women in CEO positions. I think women balance men beautifully.

Palmwoods Hotel
The Palmwoods Hotel has always been a firm favourite among the locals (my family included). It’s one of those venues you can always depend on for a great family meal in the relaxing beer garden setting, or a cosy lunch or dinner for two on the balcony. Affectionately known as ‘the Palmy’, the family-owned restaurant seats up to 300 people, making it a popular choice for parties, functions or even weddings.
Well known for their legendary steaks (always my hubby’s choice) the Palmwoods Hotel offers an extensive menu with something to suit all tastes.
Families love the fully-equipped kids’ room, complete with the latest in video games and an active play gym to keep the little ones entertained while you relax – perfect!
On the day of our visit, we sampled some of the delicious dishes on the lunch menu including the Guinness beef and mushroom pie served on a bed of mash with green beans, which got the big thumbs up from Warren. I couldn’t go past the grilled barramundi which never disappoints at the Palmy. Grilled and served with a fresh salad, it really hit the spot. Other choices included the lemon pepper calamari served with beer-battered chips, salad and aioli and of course the famous rump steak, served to your liking with beer-battered chips, salad and sauce of your choice.
Don’t forget they also offer a courtesy bus that operates within a 10km radius of the hotel so you can relax and enjoy a few drinks over lunch or dinner.
28-34 Main St, Palmwoods
Phone: 1300 725 696
www.palmwoodshotel.com.au

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