Sixteen Strategies For Managing Stress

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Many of my clients have been feeling more stressed lately than ever before.
Increased expectations on the job, economic concerns, and stressed out employees are just some of the factors contributing to stress.
Increased demands result in less time to recharge and rejuvenate both physically and mentally.
This article provides tips for leaders in dealing with stress.
When I first start working with leaders, stress often comes up as a major challenge in the job.
What is surprising is how many executives write off stress as "just how it is" or "unmanageable".
Leadership positions do come with a lot of responsibility and accountability, which often includes stress.
However, we can learn to better manage stress.
If stress is not managed effectively, the result is often loss of composure.
According to a Center for Creative Leadership study of 36,000 high level managers, composure is one of the four most critical competencies required in management.
Effective leaders are composed in a time of crisis and are skilled at coping with situations that are beyond their control.
You may not be able to get rid of all stress in your life, but you can help prevent and control it.
How is leadership affected by stress? A study by The Center for Creative Leadership found that for 88% of executives, work is the primary cause of stress (no surprise here!).
The most common cause of stress for leaders was the negative aspects of interpersonal relationships.
The study also inferred that often executives use "pushing through" their stress as a way of coping rather than actually managing stress.
Here are sixteen strategies for reducing stress in your life: Connect with others.
Whether it's a date night with your spouse or dinner with friends, set aside time every week to connect with people you care about and have fun.
Don't let negative thoughts snowball.
If you find yourself in a stressful situation, think of the positive side of the circumstances and focus on that.
Also, get yourself into action.
Taking action on a project or task and push the negative thoughts out of your mind.
Get physical.
Besides controlling weight and feeling healthier, endorphins produced during exercise can also greatly reduce stress.
Schedule regular exercise into your week.
Whether it's time at the gym, a walk, or a yoga class.
Find something you enjoy.
Redefine your priorities.
Make a list of what is important to you and what makes you happy.
Incorporate more of these things in your life.
When faced with a decision, measure it against your list of priorities to help you decide.
Redefine success.
Think about what success means to you.
Leaders often equate job title, long hours and a great paycheck with success.
Further, many leaders think this is the only way to be successful! Challenge yourself to redefine your definition of success.
Is it raising great kids? Volunteering for a meaningful organization? Feeling balanced in your life? What is success to you? Make lists.
Sometimes the act of putting tasks on paper helps alleviate mental clutter.
Make a list of what you need to do and then break the project or responsibilities into smaller, manageable tasks.
Schedule the tasks in your calendar so you are making constant progress.
Say no!: Don't overload yourself with responsibilities.
You don't have to do everything.
Through the power of choice, say no to things you don't want to do or can't commit the time to.
Be bored: Our society is all about doing and accomplishing and often exacerbates stress.
Let yourself be bored for one hour.
Soon the restlessness will be replaced with peace.
Allow yourself more peace in your life.
Stop checking your Blackberry: You heard me, put the Blackberry down.
Stop using excuses like "but I need to be available" and "there may be a crisis" or "work requires me to be available 24/7" and limit how much you check e-mail.
This was probably one of the hardest things for me to change (I've been there checking the Blackberry at all hours), but it is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself.
You will reduce your anxiety, and guess what; everything will still be there in the morning.
If someone at work needs to get a hold of you, they will.
Read a book or listen to music: A new study revealed that reading just six minutes can help reduce stress by 68%.
Reading just six minutes slows down the heart rate and reduces tension in muscles.
Likewise, listening to music reduced stress by 61%.
Be grateful: Take ten minutes each day to be grateful for what you have.
Focusing on what you are grateful for trains your mind to focus on the positive.
Gain perspective: Ask yourself, "Will this matter one year from now?" The majority of the time, the circumstance you are dealing with is not as important as you are making it out to be.
Be with nature: Getting fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature naturally calms your mind and body.
Unplug yourself from your demands and commitments and soak in the sounds and sights of nature.
Delegate and ask for help: I find this is one of the most difficult things for leaders.
Right now, look at your task list and choose two things to delegate.
Not only will this free up time for more important projects, it will enrich the jobs of your staff.
Make it a practice every week to delegate something new.
Similarly, ask for help when you need it.
Whether it's asking your spouse to do the grocery shopping this week, or asking your co-worker to review a project, make it a habit of seeking out help.
Don't watch the news: Most of the news is depressing.
If it's really important, you will hear about it.
Allow yourself a break from the doom and gloom of the economy and read a book instead to expand your mind.
My husband and I have tried this for the past month, and the result has been refreshing! We are more positive and energized, and we're learning more by reading books.
Take mini-vacations: Even if it's to stay at home and spend time with your family for a few days, take time off from work.
Everyone needs time to relax and rejuvenate.
The meaning of the word "vacation" is to "vacate your life".
That means leaving work at work.
Schedule some time in your calendar right now to take time away from work.

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