How to deal with stress: smart strategies from business leaders


This concise guide outlines several smart strategies to deal with stress, recommended by the world’s top business leaders.

A recent study shows that 60% of executive and professional women experience anxiety, stress, and psychological distress in the workplace. Moreover, an increasing number of female leaders are more stressed than their male counterparts, despite recent strides in equality in the office. A poll shows that women experience stressful work situations due to the constant sense of having their confidence undermined by men, and there’s also the fact that female leaders have to continuously prove themselves in the workplace.

Deal with stress the positive way

While things have yet to improve on this matter, female leaders can cope with the pressure and stress by emulating positive role models in the way they deal with stress. Every leader has her own way of coping with leadership stress, and some have become masters of dealing with the everyday pressures of work. By managing stress in a positive way, not only do you become a better leader, but you also take care of yourself, as being constantly stressed can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Here is how strong female leaders deal with stress.

Taking breaks to deal with stress 

Forcing yourself to work through the stress won’t do you any favors. Sometimes, it’s important to step away and take a break to deal with stress. YouTube CEO Susan Wojicki told “TODAY” that it’s important to take time off and that taking a break allows you to get a good insight to balance your life.

Getting enough sleep

Staying up late to work on a spreadsheet or answer emails is a recipe for a stress-filled day at work the next day. To deal with stress, most leaders know that they have to get enough sleep to face the challenges of every work day. Huffington Post President and Editor-in-Chief Ariana Huffington knows the value of a good night’s sleep, and she even advocates taking naps to recharge during the day. Huffington told CNN that having a good night’s sleep makes one feel “in the zone” and ready to “handle anything” in the workplace.

Making time for a hobby

Having a hobby is one way for high-powered people to deal with stress. The Partnership Inc. chief operating officer Maureen Alphonse-Charles unwinds by playing the violin, while Copyright Clearance Tracey Armstrong roots for the Patriots and cuts coupons during her spare time. Picking up a hobby can reduce your stress levels, improve your mood, and make you feel more relaxed. Try dancing, yoga, gardening, hiking, painting, swimming, playing sports or playing a musical instrument. It’s never to late to learn something new, especially when it comes to music, you too can pick up a violin bow and start churning out some relaxing music.

Leaving work in the office 

TV show creator Shonda Rhimes said that she doesn’t answer the phone or respond to emails after 7 p.m., and she makes it a point not to work on the weekends. Rhimes said that doing these things enables her to avoid burnout and have quality time with her family.

Making time for mental health and fitness 

Actress and Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba carves out time to deal with stress by taking some time to meditate, do hot yoga, or go to spin classes with her friends. All these activities help Alba to take care of her overall well-being. You can try to take a leaf out of Alba’s book and do any of the activities she mentioned. Or you can try having a massage, a manicure, or even going on a quiet walk in a beautiful garden. All of these can do wonders to restore your spirits and reduce stress levels.

Quick tactics to deal with stress

Spatial order in the workplace

Try to structure your office as well as possible to deal with stress. The individual tasks should be visually different so that there is no chaos or the feeling of being overwhelmed in stressful times. Utensils such as files, foils, etc. help with this. The desk should be tidied up at the end of the working day and there should be enough space to work during working hours. Such an order is not only important for the quality of the work and the quicker retrieval of the individual documents: With a tidy desk one also feels mentally more comfortable.

To-do lists

Try to organize your work into small bites to help deal with stress. To-do lists, in which you sort the tasks according to priority, help: Which tasks need to be processed particularly perfectly? On the other hand, post-its, which you use to wallpaper your screen, are less helpful: They can even give you the feeling that you can no longer cope with the chaos.

Take advantage of your own high-performance phases

One person is most productive at 10 a.m., the other at 2 p.m. You probably know when you are performing at your best yourself. If possible, schedule important tasks during this time. This way you can be sure that the activities that are most valued are being carried out with maximum concentration.

Self-praise is good

Emotion magazine recommends women occasionally praising themselves in front of their boss (men would supposedly do this anyway). In this way, the manager becomes aware of the successes already achieved and has more understanding if not all tasks can be mastered with more stress. It is also advisable to tell your colleagues what you have achieved. Those who only complain about the stress will sooner or later be dismissed as incompetent or annoying.

Regular breaks

Did you skip the lunch break because there simply wouldn’t be enough time for work? If possible, this should never be the case to help deal with stress, because a lunch break is legally mandatory for more than 6 hours a day. If at any point during the rest of the time you feel that you can no longer concentrate on your work, you can take a short break.

Healthy lifestyle

Those who live healthily can deal with stress much better than someone who mainly eats fast food and never does sports. Foods that are particularly good at reducing stress are: nuts, green vegetables, dark chocolate and bananas. Make sure you get enough sleep and enough time in the fresh air. Ensure a fulfilling private life and cultivate your friendships in your free time!

Do not drag yourself to work sick, even if there is still so much to do! The mistakes you make because of a cold and the like can have far-reaching consequences. In addition, none of your colleagues will thank you for getting infected.

Counter stress at work with relaxation

To quickly recharge your batteries, you can attend an autogenic training course. There you will learn how to relax well within a short period of time to help deal with stress. But autogenic training isn’t the only relaxation method. For example, mediation, yoga or breathing exercises can also help you switch off from your job. Trying out is better than studying: Not every relaxation method has a relaxing effect on every person. Therefore, you should try out for yourself what will bring the greatest benefit to you.

Conscious breaks in communication

Nobody can be expected to be available around the clock. Therefore, switch off your mobile phone when you are resting or in your free time to help deal with stress. The best thing to do is to discuss with your boss when you should be available. Because if you just turn off your cell phone unannounced, you can feel guilty and have serious consequences.

Communication of grievances

Your colleague does not have enough work while you can hardly save yourself from tasks? This does not always have to be because your colleague may be able to work more efficiently or faster than you. In such and similar cases, you can coordinate and ask your employer to distribute the areas of responsibility differently. If your colleagues also complain about too much stress at work, it can make sense to ask the employer to hire another employee.

Don’t always say yes

Your tasks are getting too much for you, and now a colleague or boss comes up to you with another concern? You don’t know where to get the time from? Then be brave and say no once in a while to help deal with stress. But explain your situation to the supplicant: You are already overloaded yourself and do not know how to cope with your own tasks.

A well-trained substitute

You can hardly enjoy your vacation because you know that vacation replacement means a lot of rework for you? When you are sick, do you just stay at home with a guilty conscience because you have to keep thinking about the constantly growing mountain of work? Then talk to your manager about the fact that more time needs to be allocated to training a substitute. A simple briefing is often not enough. The representative should also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Use vacation and weekend to relax

In addition to a well-trained vacation replacement, the following things will help you to really relax on vacation: Design your vacation so that it is relaxing for you. For one person this can mean that he is going on one sightseeing trip after the other, for another person that he is lazy in a hammock. The length of time that is spent on vacation is also not to be underestimated. It is best to take a two-week vacation, as a few days are usually not enough to relax well.

Conversations about work

In meetings you can talk about your chronic stress situation. If the workload is too much for one person, ask your coworkers for help with work. You can also discuss with your friends which behavior is the right one in your current situation. If your friends are getting annoyed about the subject, but you feel the need to talk to someone about your problems and you’re worried about slipping into depression or burnout, it makes sense to talk to a therapist . However, before you take this step, you should try to solve the problems at work.

The shortest possible commute to work

Do you commute to your job and spend many hours a week on the road? If you love your job, it can make sense to move.
For some, however, it may be enough to switch from public transport to cycling. Maybe you can find a faster way to the office!

Change of job if the field of activity is incorrect

If the work is a lot of fun and you can realize yourself to a certain extent in it, you can often overlook a little stress and chaos. It looks different if you think that you do not want to pursue this field of activity on a permanent basis. In this case, it makes more sense to look elsewhere. Even if you are interested in the tasks but have been unhappy in your work for a long time, it makes sense to change jobs, especially if you are already bullied by your colleagues for the constant complaint about the stress.

You will encounter stressful situations in every workplace. However, if you are sure that the field of work in another company will be just as stressful, and you know that you cannot bear this kind of stress, you can think about a change of industry or a retraining.

The most important things to keep in mind

Those who have a poor organisation in their office will also find it harder to to help deal with stress. To-do lists can also help to set priorities and better structure individual work. When the most important tasks are carried out, you should, if possible, adapt to your own biorhythm.

So that the supervisor knows what he has in you as an employee, it can make sense to mention your current achievements and successes. Even if you cannot cope with your workload, you can show what you have already achieved in this way.

If you can no longer concentrate, take a short break to help deal with stress. Your vacation replacement should be trained as well as possible and your vacation should be spent in such a way that you can relax optimally. A healthy lifestyle helps ensure that you can do your job well. Also ensure active relaxation in everyday life and don’t leave your smartphone running around the clock.

It is also important that your self-confidence does not depend solely on what you achieve in your work. Preserve or create other areas from which you can gain self-affirmation, such as exciting hobbies or good friendships.

It’s lonely and stressful at the top, but leaders can deal with stress by taking time for themselves, taking a breather from stressful office work, and doing some activities that can enrich their lives. In doing so, you can overcome stressful workplace situations and become a better leader in your organization.

About Jackie Edwards'

After taking a career sabbatical to become a mother, Jackie Edwards now writes on matters relating to business, money and family finance. She has, in the past battled problems with anxiety and panic, and in her spare time she volunteers for a number of local charities that support people with mental health issues

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