Have you read Part One of this article. If not, you can do so here. You'll discover three additional tips on how to deal with stress.
Take Time to Relax and PlayWho's got time you may well be asking? Well the simple answer is if you are serious about ways to relieve your stress levels, you don't have any option but to take the time to recharge your batteries.
Stop Deceiving Yourself: Possibly one of the biggest self-deceptions of many leaders, when it comes to dealing with stress, is that they are indispensable. Their actions such as: not taking leave, coming in whilst ill, working 12-15 hour days, 7 days per week, consistently missing important family events - proclaim very loudly to the world their belief that the workplace would fall apart without them.
Empower your team to be able to make decisions whilst you are away, so that you can have the time to rejuvenate and refresh.
Exercise: Getting physically fit improves not only your physical health, but also your mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins into your body which helps you to feel good.
Meditate: Research suggests that people who meditate are happier, healthier and live longer than those who don't. Certainly my personal experience has been that meditation has reduced anxiety and stress and enabled me to feel better within myself.
Break Up Your Work Day: Your decision-making becomes poorer when your mind is cluttered with many conflicting priorities and you are feeling under pressure. Something as simple as taking a 5 minute walk around the block may be all that you need to clear your head and take some tension from your mind.
When you return to your workplace after that few minutes you'll often find that you are feeling re-energized and new more creative thoughts may have popped into your head. (By the way, for best effect, leave your mobile in the office!)
Use a Support Network
Be willing to ask for help when you need it. Whether it is the help of a professional counsellor, using a coach, your manager, your peers, your direct reports, your family seek out people that you can turn to for encouragement and support.
Leaders with high self-esteem find it easy to ask for assistance and don't suffer from the unhealthy belief that they are weak if they can't do it all.
In fact you may even be pleasantly surprised by how you really aren't the lone ranger and there are probably people on the sidelines more than willing to take up some of your overflow and provide you with help as you figure out how to deal with stress.
Control Your Mind
Many people spend too much time negative goal-setting. In other words, they spend time worrying. In the book, "The Astonishing Power of Emotions" by Esther and Jerry Hicks the process of up-stream and down-stream thinking is one of the most powerful processes I have come across for enabling you to control how your mind thinks. It helps you to open the door to making peace with where you are right now. To say that this piece of work has had a profound impact on my own personal life is an understatement.
Focus on the now. Yes, you may well do planning for the future, but there is a world of difference between planning and worrying.
You have probably had experiences where you have been worrying about something in the future and it didn't come to pass. Well what a waste of time and energy! The only moment you have to deal with is the one right now. Fussing and fretting about what 'could be' does little for your energy levels or the future. Taking the right actions now is the most important thing.
Have an Exit StrategyIf all else fails and you can't see any light at the end of the tunnel you may find that leaving is an option.
Whilst financially it may be enticing to stay, at some point you may need to ask yourself "At What Cost?" The price you are paying may well be more than just your health, it may also include declining relationships.
I have coached several leaders who resisted, (due to financial commitments and the desire for security), stepping out of their stressful situation, but who eventually found the courage to do so. Without exception they have all said that, armed with a clarity about what they were wanting to create, it was the best decision they made ... even though it may not have been a walk in the park!
I've also coached several leaders, who once armed with a new skill-set - i.e they applied skills such as those described above - were able to take the dragon, soothe it and remain very happily where they are!
Before you take the major step of resigning, work with a coach or take a stress management class in order to help you with anxiety and stress management and enhance your skill set at managing work and stress loads better. This will reassure you that you aren't taking the problem with you - which might well be you!
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