Rising to the top comes with a great deal of responsibility and is often associated with higher levels of stress. By nature, leaders are hard-working and fiercely committed to driving their organisation towards a prosperous future.
It’s easy for leaders to become so immersed in their role that they fail to recognise the warning signs of stress, leading to emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. According to Business Insider, ‘high levels of stress can have a negative influence on leadership potential.’
Smart leaders know how to identify their stress triggers and take preventive action to combat it and even use it to fuel their success.
If you’re crumbling under the pressure, try these stress combatting techniques:
1. Recognise the signals
Pay attention to your body’s response to stress. What are the triggers? What are your physiological responses? Do you breathe faster? Do you feel your heart rate going up? The sooner you identify it, the sooner you can do something to manage it.
2. Prioritise YOU
For leaders, life often revolves around work. There’s nothing smart however about sacrificing your physical and mental well-being for work. If you want to be an effective leader, it’s time to pay greater attention to your well-being. Take time to exercise, spend time with friends and family, pursue your interests and hobbies. Give your mind and body the care they need, when they need it.
3. Delegate, delegate, delegate
Delegation is a vital leadership skill and any success-oriented leader worth their salt will learn how to delegate effectively. Leaders must pass on tasks to ensure they have sufficient time to devote to performance management, training and strategy. This is not an excuse to micro-manage your team, identify their unique strengths and abilities and release control in service of their own growth and development.
4. Get active!
Leaders know that exercise boosts health, well-being and performance, and yet many still fail to prioritise it. The key is to find something you enjoy, whether it’s yoga, running, or walking. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, even ten minutes of daily aerobic exercise can create anti-anxiety effects in the body.
5. Develop a support system
Find a group of people who understand your goals for managing stress and to help you stay on track. Mix it up and ask your peers, boss, family and/or trusted friends to support you along the way.
6. Redefine balance
Find a life balance, make better decisions that support your core values. What is important to you might change overtime so dedicate time to reflection and review.
7. Say NO
Saying no more often is a sure-fire strategy for freeing up your time and reducing your stress levels. Be diligent about planning your week/month ahead, ensuring that you are diarising things that are in line with your goals. Then, say ‘no’ to anything that interferes with your plan.
8. Rethink your work processes
Prioritisation, organisation, and planning are three of the most effective stress managers - ask yourself how you can streamline and organise your workload.
Remember that stress is contagious, so managing your own will ensure you safeguard the performance, productivity and well-being of your team too.
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