Stress management is no longer an alien term for most people. Likely, you’ve already taken a course or two (and declined some) at one point in your career and thought yourself fully equipped to manage stress. Yet the truth of the matter is, the efficiency of this life skill surpasses knowledge. At times, it’s even not enough that you apply a trick or two when you’re under duress. It’s not as life-changing as it’s advertised for many people because they don’t understand the fundamentals behind it. When you aren’t employing stress management with the right mindset, your effort always falls short, and you tend to feel like your problems are insurmountable.
If you’ve felt this way as a business leader during the pandemic, then you’re not alone. A global health crisis is difficult to wade through when the burden of your company and your career are on your shoulders. The only way to harness the maximum potential of the stress management skills you already know is to return to the basics and work on your foundation.
It always starts with you. As with everything, you can’t expect to take good care of a department, a company, or a client when you’re not even capable of looking after yourself. All those late nights, forgotten medical appointments, and ditched social activities in the name of meeting deadlines take their toll on your mind, heart, and body. You might not feel the effects right away, but at one point, you will notice that you’re experiencing more frequent burnout. Your patience is gone, your creativity diminished, and your motivation low.
So while self-care might not seem like a priority, it is one of the most crucial things you can invest in during tough times. What are some good habits you’ve dropped at the start of the outbreak? Have you neglected exercising and resorted to binge eating? Do you spend less time in front of the mirror and often go to bed without doing your nighttime routine? When was the last time you read a good book, had a nice laugh, and prepared a hearty meal? Try new things to ease your mind and body but don’t forget to make yourself look good.
Looking presentable even when you’re not spending so much time outside is important in boosting your self-esteem. Maybe now is the time to get that Botox you’ve always wanted to get. The week after, you could try a new massage place and shop for comfortable but chic casual wear at home. Self-care looks different for each person. Find what suits you and remind yourself that you matter.
Leaders like to feel invincible. It’s the go-to persona of everyone who’s ever been a CEO, manager, and team leader. So, when bad news comes–and there’s been a lot during the pandemic–the default attitude is to withhold it or downplay it. Some leaders even attempt to handle it on their own so that, when it’s resolved, it’s swept under the rug as though it never happened. This isn’t the picture of leadership that will get you through tough times. You have to accept that no matter how reliable, trustworthy, and capable you are, you can’t and shouldn’t carry the burden alone. Be honest with yourself and, above all, be honest with your team.
There may be criticism and negativity when you announce bad news as they come, but here’s another honest take at business: this is normal, and they won’t ever stop coming. Create an office culture where people acknowledge setbacks and respond to them by coming up with solutions. The blame-game should be thrown out, and teamwork should be the go-to fix for every dilemma. You’ll find that when you value honesty, stress management becomes easier and its effects more potent.
Contextualize Tough Decisions
The pressure to perform and generate income during the pandemic often leads to misguided decisions. You’re forced to make choices at once or, to alleviate stress, you don’t spend time rethinking your options first. Tough decisions aren’t made in context, and while they may make you feel better for a moment, they could lead to regrets in the future.
How do you contextualize decisions? Go back to your core values, vision, and motivation. Many people know something’s amiss when they make certain choices, and they don’t realize that this is because they’ve strayed from the fundamentals that defined their career and business. This also leads you to pursue stress-relieving actions that aren’t congruent with the same fundamentals, therefore making them futile. Go back to your roots and strategize your way forward from there.
Stress Management Has Many Faces
When you value self-care, honesty, and purpose, it’s easier to make stress management a part of your leadership. It’s because you understand what’s holding you back from utilizing it properly and can overcome them so that stress doesn’t get the better of you during tough times.