As business leaders, we commit to achieving aggressive goals. Our resources are at capacity yet there’s more work to do. Getting all the required resources together for important discussions that lead to key decisions is re-scheduled again and again, delaying progress. External conditions change and knock our action plans off track. Sales are below forecast, which reduces funding for projects that make good business sense but are now delayed. Or sales are way above forecast which pours gasoline on the fire that is the frenetic pace at which business leaders tend to operate.
Breaking the stress cycle is critical. When we’re over-stressed our performance suffers. We make hasty, suboptimal decision. Over-stressed people experience headaches, stomach aches, are tired, or just don’t feel well. And staying too stressed for too long can increase the health concerns, from irritable bowel syndrome to long-term issues like heart disease or cancer. You might say your life depends on reducing stress.
East to say, but what if all the business problems are still present? While it would be nice if the challenges took care of themselves the chance that you, as a business leader, will need to deal with each directly is more likely. You’ll need to manage your stress while leading your business. Here are some ideas that can help you control your stress.
Eight Ideas for Reducing Stress
First, remind yourself that it isn’t a situation that causes the outcome you experience, but your reaction to the situation. You do choose your thoughts, so choose a perspective that is more empowering for you. Even though your thoughts may be deeply rooted, over time you can begin to shift them. If you have a “doom and gloom” reaction to every piece of bad news that comes up you are letting it control you. What if you choose to believe that the situation is temporary, that you know exactly how to fix it, and there’s a lesson for you to learn as part of the situation? Try this and notice how your experience and stress level changes.
Next, respect your body – get enough sleep and eat right. Rather than burn the midnight oil each day to battle your workload, know what your body needs for sleep and treat it right. While you’re treating your body right, feed it proper nutrition at regular intervals rather than relying on caffeine and junk food on the go.
Third, exercise to burn stress. This includes walking, running, weight-lifting, biking, playing a sport, and making love, just to name a few. Sweat, raise your heart rate, breathe faster, then shower and get back to your business.
Fourth, vent. You’re frustrated, things aren’t going as planned, you’re thinking thoughts that are preoccupying your mind and preventing you from having the clarity you need to work productively to solve problems. These thoughts want to be heard, so give them a voice as a way to release them. Here’s the thing – don’t vent to lots of other people. Rather, speak your vent out loud when you’re alone, such as when driving. Or write in a journal. Or vent to a close, trusted advisor and say, “I want to vent for a minute…” Remember, nobody likes a complainer, so don’t allow your venting to go too far. Vent, feel a weight being lifted, then move on.
Fifth, meditate. Listen to a guided meditation or simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing and your heart. Feel gratitude for what is going right in your life. Smile. You can imagine your body filling with a powerful, healing, white light or energy and feel it move through your body. Allow yourself to simply quiet your mind’s chatter for a few minutes, or longer if you want.
Sixth, visualize everything perfect. When we focus on what’s not working we forget what we want to have instead. Get clear about having everything go perfectly as if there were no problems in the first place. Know what this looks like and burn into your mind this perfect scene.
Seventh, get help from God. Whether you’re religious or not, if you believe in God or a higher power, than ask for help. Be clear about what you want and ask specifically for it. Expect a miracle. Even small miracles can help you.
Eighth, enjoy the moment. Whatever is going on right now this very moment, find a way to enjoy it. Maybe you enjoy the people you’re working with right now. Maybe it’s a beautiful day and you inhale the fresh air as you walk from your car. Maybe you heard a funny joke. Maybe you got some good news (some things are going right!) Listen to a favorite song. Call and say hello to a friend. Or just notice what’s around you in your environment at this very moment and enjoy that.
Reducing stress is crucial to our performance as a business leader and our ability to enjoy life away from business. Take care of yourself by finding a few methods of lowering your stress that work for you and appreciate that you will be a better person and performer at work and at home.