What can leaders do to better manage stress? Here are a few tips and tools from a team of experts from the Center for Creative Leadership: Vidula Bal, Michael Campbell, Joan Gurvis and Sharon McDowell-Larsen.
Know the signals. Learn to pay attention to your body’s response to stress. What triggers a feeling of stress and what are your physiological responses? Do you feel your heart rate going up? Do you get hot? Do you clench your jaw? Get a headache? The sooner you recognize that your body is going into stress, the sooner you can do something to manage it.
Create a ritual. Make it a habit to have a stress break. For example, every 90 minutes get up from your desk and walk around or get out for some fresh air. Do some deep breathing, shoulder shrugs, or just close your eyes for one minute. Taking a mental or physical break is an important strategy for dealing with day-to-day stress. When things are extra stressful, you can rely on these same tactics to get you through.
Get away. Find effective ways to set boundaries between work and home life. Whatever works for you – listening to music on the commute home, turning off the cell phone and email during personal or family time, participating in a social activity or hobby – make time for it and keep your commitment to having a life outside of work.
Focus on fitness. A regular exercise program is the best way to minimize the negative health outcomes associated with the demands of the job. Under stress we build up certain hormones; exercise dissipates some of that. Make a commitment to exercising at least 30 minutes twice a week. Also, incorporate healthy practices such as adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet while reducing added sugars, fat and sodium. (more…)