By Sean Wood
Leaders face a unique kind of stress.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
Lou Holtz, America Football Player, Coach and Analyst
As we all know, stress is just a part of life, but those in leadership positions often experience the added challenge of having stress come at them from all directions at once. The daily stressors from juggling performance at work and personal responsibilities are often amplified by expectations from their bosses, clients, employees and subordinates.
Meditation, exercise and hobbies are great stress relievers, but they may not be enough. There are some additional strategies leaders can implement to help relieve stress, from paying attention to diet, to taking needed breaks, to finding people who understand your goals and obstacles.
Recognize your stress. You can’t cope with your stress unless you recognize that you are stressed. Does your heart beat faster? Does your fuse get shorter? Do you suffer from headaches? Identifying the signals is the first step to responding.
Create a routine. Too often we put our heads down and plow through our tasks. It’s better to break up that constant flow of work with walks around the office, trips outside or movement and stretches beyond what it takes to get our jobs done.
Get away. Leave work at work. Don’t answer emails or review documents on the bus or train ride home. Listen to music or a podcast or just be alone with your thoughts. Keep work out of your family and personal time so you have a respite from the job. Make sure to take time off. Vacations are the opportunity to recharge your batteries and recognize there is more to life than work.
Make healthful choices. Exercising at least twice a week for 30 minutes helps remove some of the hormones that build up in our systems due to stress. Eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce your intake of sugar, fat and salt.
Find support. It’s not all on you. Find people at work or home who understand your efforts to cope with your work stress. Keep them apprised of your efforts and let them support you.
Re-group on a stressful task. It sometimes helps to step back and develop a new approach. Ensure there are clear roles and goals. Also explore how you can organize the work in a way that allows you to meet milestones and celebrate those accomplishments
Redefine balance. Our lives are constantly changing so balance becomes a moving target. Never forget your values and use them as a compass to guide your decisions in all things.
We may never eliminate stress from our lives, but you can take advantage of these techniques to help you cope and keep stress from becoming overwhelming.
Sean Wood is the owner of Three 8 Communications and previously worked for Sensis TX. He has over 30 years of writing experience and conducts media training sessions with numerous corporate executives.
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