How To Cope with Stress as a Leader
Stress. We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives. Sometimes the stress of everyday life can feel like a lot for one person, not just for leaders, but for every human being. We all have different things to stress over and different ways of dealing with it. University students might be stressing out about that big exam next week, while the businesswoman who owns the café up the street from your work might be stressing over not having enough staff, or a mum who works from home and is juggling being a mum and making ends meet, while others might be worrying about paying rent or the next electricity bill.
It’s not healthy to stress and stress, letting it build up until everything feels like way too much. That’s why it’s important to learn how to cope with stress and what you can do to lessen stress in the short and long run, whether it’s at work or at home. It is possible to minimise stress and make your daily life a little easier, you just have to learn to not sweat the small stuff, it’s only small stuff after all, and worry about the things that matter.
I see it all the time, so many leaders are constantly burning themselves out due to the stresses of the job or their personal lives, and instead of seeking help or guidance, just letting it fester and build up. That’s not healthy for anyone. How do you know you’re stressed? Well, the smallest inconvenience or problem upsets you, you throw in the towel straight away when things go wrong, you’re short-tempered when it comes to your staff, everything feels fast-paced and you feel emotionally exhausted.
Stress isn’t just limited to the office; it can be linked to your home life with kids. You can’t avoid it; but you can break the barrier and face it though. Learning how to be resilient and manage your time better can be the key to breaking out of that stress rut you’re currently in, which will allow you to focus on the more important things at work and in life. Stress has a way of blinding you to what’s really important and what you should be focusing on.
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How can you manage those impending deadlines and that pile of paper on your desk that’s getting higher and higher every day. I’ve written up a list of ways you can stop squeezing that stress ball every five minutes.
1. Be organised
Organise your time better. Get a diary to jot down your thoughts, appointments, priorities, chores and deadlines. Or make sure you’re putting everything into your online calendar. Once you have a clear schedule of what you’re doing each day and you can see it laid out in front of you instead of flying around inside your head and stressing yourself out, your days will run much smoother and you won’t forget to do the important things as easily.
2. Find your purpose
Make sure your business and your team have a clear and concise purpose. Every day, when your team members come into work, they should have a clear purpose and goals set out to work towards. This will help lessen the stress and workload, as well as increase motivation and productivity. Stress is not good for a positive, team-friendly environment, because it leads to arguments and even more stress.
Stress can be overwhelming, so when things get a little tougher, make sure you find the time to pause. It can be something as simple as eating lunch with a book, taking a deep breath, stretching or strolling up to the local café for a coffee and a sandwich. By pausing, you are giving yourself room to push all those stressful thoughts out of your head and make way for positive ones, and giving you a clearer idea of how you will move forward with that big project and your leadership journey.
Learning how to be a more resilient leader can help you bounce back from setbacks you encounter on a daily basis even faster. Resilient leaders don’t let failures or negative thoughts get in the way of them doing their jobs or leading their team members. Resilient people can overcome adversity, are committed to their goals and spend their time and energy on things they have control over, not things they cannot control. Once you learn how to be more resilient, you will be a stronger leader for it.
Sleep, yes sleep. A poor night’s sleep can severely impact your performance at work and doesn’t let you be present 100% in your personal life. Getting enough sleep will give you the energy to tackle bigger projects, make better judgements and think clearly, and prevent you from getting sick. Making sure you get enough sleep at night and get to bed at the right time will help you be a better leader.
6. Schedule in Self-care
As leaders, we are so busy worrying about our families, businesses and team members that we tend to forget to think about ourselves sometimes. Scheduling in time for self-care isn’t selfish, it helps with reducing stress, prevents anxiety, makes you feel better about yourself, gives you confidence, and gives your mind and body time to relax. By incorporating self-care into your daily routine, you’ll find you are more motivated, driven, positive and less stressed.
7. Rethink how you view Stress
I love to this TED talk about Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.
By Sonia McDonald – CEO Of LeadershipHQ And McDonald Inc. Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO And Award Winning Author.
Sonia McDonald is changing the face of leadership across the globe. She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, and is known for her mantra ‘Just Lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her transformational coaching, leadership training programs and cultural transformation for organisations and encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped thousands of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
Sonia is a founder and CEO of McDonald Inc., LeadershipHQ and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and 2022 Courage Conference. For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of leadership and she is beyond committed to her mission around building a world of great leaders.
She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader. She has been recognised by Richtopia as One of the Top 250 Influential Women across the Globe and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is a leading coach, an award-winning published author of newly released First Comes Courage, Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! and has become an in-demand keynote speaker on leadership, kindness and courage.
Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, kindness, empathy and courage as well as building outstanding leadership across the Globe.