One of the most challenging aspects of business leadership is self-care. Part of self-care involves learning how to deal with stress in appropriate and helpful ways. Stress is an inevitable part of executive positions. What executives can change, however, is how they deal with that stress.
When business leaders start to feel overwhelmed, they can become less productive and move closer toward burnout. Learning how to manage stress is not easy, partly because each person handles stress differently. However, business leaders need to start somewhere if they feel like the stress has become overwhelming. Implementing the following tips can help people manage stress more effectively.
Keep busyness external, not internal.
Business leaders are necessarily busy, but a clear distinction exists between external and internal busyness. Externally, individuals will face many emails, important decisions, and other distractions. These pulls on time can begin to seem overwhelming when they are internalized.
With internal busyness, individuals allow themselves to get distracted by the amount of work that needs to get done. The result is that nothing is done with complete concentration, so things will start falling between the cracks. Ultimately, this can cause problems in the long run.
With mindfulness, business leaders can keep themselves calm and collected even when they face a mountain of work. Inner peace is important to concentrate fully on tasks and make sure that they get done completely.
Deal directly with stress instead of ignoring it.
Because business leaders face so many tasks in a single day, it can become easy to bury a source of stress and focus on other work. However, doing so often means that the stress continues to grow until eventually a business leader is overwhelmed and lashes out at those around him or her. This can be problematic since outbursts are usually misdirected.
Instead of letting stress fester, it is best to deal with it head on and identify exactly what is causing the emotional drain and why. Sometimes, a difficult decision on the horizon can cause stress. In this situation, it is best to confer with advisors and figure out a course of action. Other times, an client needs to be contacted so that the situation can be resolved. In the end, what is most important is addressing the root of the stress and relieving it as quickly as possible.
Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Too often, business leaders let their jobs take over their lives. These individuals may begin working through their lunch breaks and then stop taking vacations. Before long, these individuals cut recreation out of their lives altogether, which means that they get no break from the stress.
Instead, individuals need to focus on getting regular exercise, taking scheduled breaks during the day, and taking time off from work regularly. While it may sound like this would consume time, it actually gives leaders perspective and makes them more efficient.
Delegate tasks to reduce the workload.
Many business leaders take on more than they can handle because they believe that delegating tasks means they will not get done correctly. When these individuals do delegate, they sometimes end up micromanaging and expending as much time and energy as they would have had they done the task themselves.
Instead, it makes sense to hire people that can handle the work and to train them how to do everything according to the organization’s standards. Then, tasks can be delegated with confidence when leaders start to feel overwhelmed. After all, leadership is less about doing everything and more about figuring out who is most equipped to do what needs to get done. Training employees takes some time upfront, but it saves an incredible amount of time later.
Learn how to say no.
A large number of business leaders struggle with the word “no.” After all, these individuals did not climb the corporate ladder by saying no. At the same time, there are only so many hours in a day. When executives stretch themselves too thin, they put pressure on themselves and their performance suffers. To avoid this stress, it is important to learn how to say, “Sorry, but I’m too busy.”
Some business leaders have actually adapted the strategy of making their schedules public to the company. That way, individuals can see if someone is unavailable and can also identify a better time in the future to meet. Often, saying no simply means being more in touch with what must get done each week. Executives may want to consider taking some time on Sunday night to map out the week and then stick to that schedule to reduce stress.
Make smart, deliberate changes to workflow.
As individuals begin to feel more stressed, they sometimes become motivated to make quick, sweeping changes in workflow to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, these decisions are often brash and end up causing more stress down the line. Instead of making instant changes, leaders should take some time to step back and figure out what shifts will actually improve processes in the long run.
Before any major changes are made, leaders need to think through the possible consequences and secure buy-in from the employees who will be affected. Taking these extra steps reduces the risk of backlash, which could cause serious issues at the organization.