Stress is common in the modern workplace, affecting employees at all levels, from associates to chief executives. If uninterrupted, stress leads to burnout, decreased productivity, and health challenges. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why it's important for you to prioritize your mental health by recognizing the signs of stress, identifying its causes, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
As a leader, you often face a great deal of pressure and responsibility in your role, which can lead to high stress levels. Long hours, tight deadlines, and constant decision-making all contribute to stress, which can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, irritability, and fatigue. It can also impair your decision-making capabilities, which ultimately impacts your organization's success.
Prioritizing your mental health should be a top priority. Here are some tips to help you reduce daily stress and improve your overall well-being:
1. Exercise mindfulness: Mindfulness, the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, allows you to maintain self-awareness and frame situations in the proper context. So, this morning you woke up later than intended, your coffeemaker stopped working, and a rude driver cut you off in traffic. Before you walk into your next meeting, take a few slow, deep breaths to re-center yourself, and then acknowledge the actual sources of your stress to avoid misdirecting your frustration.
2. Manage shadow energy: As a leader and role model, you constantly demonstrate coolness under pressure for the benefit of your team, oftentimes burying your emotions to preserve your leadership presence. Those suppressed feelings become your emotional shadow and tamping it down is only a temporary fix. Emotions are forms of energy, and basic Physics tells us that energy cannot be destroyed, only shifted. To regain your balance, redirect shadow energy through sufficient rest (sleep), periodic restoration (taking breaks), and – most important – regular exercise, which can positively impact both your physical and mental health.
3. Engage support: Although it can be helpful to seek out a colleague, friend, or family member when you feel stressed, a relationship with a professional coach offers a focused approach to long-term progress. Dealing with conflicts, maximizing your visibility, and cultivating an effective team culture are just a few common stress-makers for leaders that can be improved with the help of an intuitive coach. Through an in-depth analysis of your leadership strengths and development areas, a skilled coach can support you in maximizing your confidence, advancing your leadership skillset, and charting your career.
4. Set boundaries: Most leaders feel compelled to be available 24/7. However, establishing personal limits helps maintain a healthy work-life balance and reduces stress. Block out time to nurture your mental health with a short walk outside. Sometimes you may just need a calendar reminder that simply reads: “breathe.” Finally, try to disconnect from work emails and calls after a certain hour each day and encourage your team to do the same.
In addition to these individual strategies, you should take steps to create a work environment that supports employee well-being. This can include offering mental health resources, advocating for work-life balance, and cultivating a positive and supportive workplace culture.