Stress Relief for Leaders

Stressed Out
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What energizes you? When you’re having one of those days when things aren’t going right and the boss isn’t happy, what do you do? Hopefully, your answer is not to find someone to yell at. Leaders seldom make everyone happy and can count on having bad days. How you handle those bad days can have a significant influence on your leadership effectiveness, not to mention your mental and even physical health.

It may seem unfair, but your team expects you to maintain an even temperament. That’s not to say you should never show emotion or let people know when you’re happy or unhappy. Although your team wants to know you’re human and are affected by events just as they are, they also expect leaders to carry on, in spite of whatever may be challenging the team. Maintaining an even temperament when you’re feeling anger, despair, or an inability to concentrate on the issues at hand can be difficult. More than a few leaders develop serious emotional and even physical issues because they try to keep everything bottled up inside. Eventually though, they melt down or explode. There are steps you can take to deal with stress before it gets to that point.

  1. Do something physical. A little physical exercise can go a long way toward relieving stress. You don’t have to run a marathon, but a trip around the block can be relaxing. I once worked in a very large 4 story building. My office was on the second floor, and I developed a route that took me from my office to the basement and back up to the 4th floor without ever using the same hall or stairway twice. It took about 20 minutes and when I returned I felt refreshed.
  1. Find a confidant. It’s very helpful to have someone in whom you can confide your frustrations. For me, this is my wonderful wife who has been there for me for over 35 years. Your confidant doesn’t have to be a spouse. Perhaps you have another close relative or a long-time friend whom you trust. Be careful though as there are a couple of serious pitfalls. Your team members should never be your confidants and, though you should share concerns or disagreements with your boss, he or she isn’t a shoulder to cry on. Be careful what you discuss with your confidant as there is most likely information you shouldn’t share outside your team.
  1. Take a little time off. Leaders sometimes have a masochistic tendency to don a superhuman persona. The “life’s short, sleep when you’re dead” idea. There are a few people, very few, who get away with that, but most of us need to take a little down time every now and then. Sometimes you have to put in those long days and weeks, but not always. Take a weekend off; take a vacation. Just get away for a while.
  1. Go out and catch one of your workers doing something good and tell them about it. Nothing ever gave me a better boost than getting out with the people who held my success in their hands and thanking them for what they did for the organization. It’s invigorating!

If you don’t have stress as a leader, you probably aren’t doing your job. But don’t let it burn you out. Try these techniques for a little relief.

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