How to Manage Stress
6 Good Ways, 5 Bad Ways to reduce stress - and THE BEST WAY
In this article, we'll explore the various ways that stress can affect us, especially when it comes to business professionals, leaders, managers and executives, and discuss strategies for mitigating its negative effects.
What is Stress?
Stress is a term used to describe the body's natural response to a perceived threat or challenge.
It is a physiological and psychological reaction that occurs when we feel overwhelmed or under pressure, and our bodies and minds react to the situation.
Stress can be caused by a wide range of factors, including work, school, relationships, financial problems, health issues, and more.
When we experience chronic stress, our body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms.
While some level of stress is normal and can even be helpful in certain situations, chronic or excessive stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health.
How Common is Chronic Stress?
Stress is very common, especially in the workplace among leaders and executives, and it can have significant impacts on their physical and mental health, as well as their work performance and productivity.
In this article, we'll explore the various ways that stress can affect leaders and executives, and discuss strategies for mitigating its negative effects.
A recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that 96% of the more than 1,000 leaders surveyed reported feeling some level of stress and burnout, with nearly a third saying they felt "always" or "often" burned out.
Another survey by the American Institute of Stress found that 80% of workers reported feeling stress on the job, and nearly half said they needed help in learning how to manage stress.
In addition, a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that high-level executives experience more stress and burnout than other employees.
The study found that leaders, managers and executives reported higher levels of stress and poorer mental health than non-executive employees, suggesting that the demands and pressures of leadership can take a toll on mental health.
The Health Impacts of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress can lead to a range of negative health outcomes, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders.
Research has also shown that stress can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections. (source: American Psychological Association)
Some examples of potential negative outcomes of chronic stress include:
- increased heart rate
- high blood pressure
- heart attack
- high blood sugars
- digestive issues
- stomach pain
- difficulty sleeping.
- Cognitive decline
- memory problems
- Weakened/suppressed immune system
- frequent infections and diseases
- Chronic pain
- back pain
- relationship trouble
Stressed parents even affect the mental and physical health of your children. So, stress management should be paramount for parents.
The Impacts of Chronic Stress on Work Performance
Stress can have significant impacts on work performance, leading to decreased productivity, decreased job satisfaction, and increased absenteeism.
In long-standing cases, chronic stress can even lead to burnout, a condition in which an individual feels exhausted, overwhelmed, and disengaged from their work. (source: Harvard Business Review)
Strategies for Managing Stress
While it's impossible to eliminate stress entirely, there are strategies everyone, especially leaders, managers, professionals and executives can use to manage it more effectively.
A novel approach is to re-think the way you mentally approach stress, and think of it as a performance booster. This approach seems to often be efficient for younger people.
These might include mindfulness practices, exercise, sleep hygiene, and regular breaks throughout the workday.
Good nutrition and targeted supplementation in the context of a "nutrient symphony" (a harmonic Additionally, seeking support from a coach or therapist can be a helpful way to manage stress and build resilience. (source: Mayo Clinic)
6 Good Ways How To Manage Stress
Exercise: Regular exercise can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. Well-known benefits are the production of endorphins, which are the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals, and the production of BDNF, which helps to build new connections and cells in the brain and can contribute to better learning and memory.
Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way, and it can help to reduce stress and improve focus. There are many different types of mindfulness meditation, from guided meditation apps or classes to books and much more. Many leaders find it hard to wind down and sit still, though, and prefer other ways to achieve the same or even better results, like Havening Techniques.
Time management: Effective time management can help us to prioritize tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the workload. This may involve delegating tasks to others, setting clear boundaries around work hours, or using time management tools such as calendars and to-do lists.
Coaching or counseling: Some executives may choose to work with a qualified coach or a counselor to develop coping skills and strategies for managing stress. In this blog post: https://docchristine.com/psychiatrist-vs-psychologist-therapist-life-coach-mental-health-support/ I explain which profession is best suited for which kind of mental health support.
Relaxation techniques: Executives may also try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization exercises to help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Social support: Building and maintaining social connections can be an important way for executives to manage stress. You may want to spending time with friends and family, seek support from colleagues or mentors, or join a professional or social group.
5 Bad Ways How To Manage Stress
Very often, leaders and business executives as well as professionals who try to manage their stress fall into unhealthy and even harmful habits that can be very damaging in the long run. Here are some common ones:
Substance use: Some leaders turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of “self-medicating” themselves in an attempt to cope with stress, but this can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including addiction, impaired judgment, and poor health.
Ignoring the problem: Some executives may try to ignore their stress or push through it, believing that this is a necessary part of their job. However, this can lead to burnout, poor performance, and a sleuth of negative health outcomes, from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and digestive issues up to dementia.
Overworking: While some level of stress can be motivating, constantly working long hours and neglecting self-care can lead to burnout and other negative outcomes, including physical and mental health problems.
Avoiding social support: Leaders and Managers who feel that they must always be in control may avoid seeking social support, either from colleagues or family and friends. Social support can be a crucial part of managing stress, and avoiding it can lead to isolation, frustration, and depression.
Self-medicating with food: Some of us may turn to food as a way of coping with stress, either by overeating or restricting our intake. However, this can lead to weight gain or loss, poor nutrition, and digestive issues as well as brain fog and many more symptoms of failing health.
The BEST Way How to Manage Stress is...
The best way to manage your chronic stress is the way that works for you.
This needs to be considered given your individual circumstances, genetic and cultural history, lifestyle habits, preferences, and environment and more.
How do you know which one it is?
That’s where we come in.
To find the BEST way for you in the long run, we recommend our Comprehensive 5-Dimensional Remote Holistic Health Assessment where we do - in a 100% private atmosphere - a thorough 1:1 analysis of all determinants of your health and life, re-analyze all previous lab results under the perspective of optimal brain and mental health and then, together with you, craft your individualized life strategy plan that will support you in reducing the likelihood of succumbing to a health condition while staying at mental and physical peak performance.
Do not deprive yourself of the best options to build, re-build or renovate your “house of health” to withstand the test of time.
Why Brain Health is Crucial for Stress Management and Good Mental Health
I am blessed to be a member of the Teaching Team of Dr. Daniel Amen, one of my mentors and teachers. He says:
“Success in EVERYTHING we do starts with an optimized brain. And I can prove it.”
By boosting your brain reserve you can handle much more stress than the "normal" person.
I have written about the 5 Dimensions of brain health and mental health here and here
Another surprising way how to manage stress and become more resilient is to start a gratitude habit or journal with the help of a great gratitude journal.
The Benefits of Coaching for Stress Reduction
Coaching can be a powerful tool for leaders, professionals and executives who are looking to manage their stress more effectively.
By working with a coach, individuals can identify the sources of their stress, develop coping strategies, and build resilience to future stressors.
Additionally, coaches can provide ongoing support and accountability, helping individuals to stay on track with their stress management goals.
Stress is a significant issue for many people, especially for leaders and executives, with impacts that extend beyond just their personal wellbeing.
By taking proactive steps to manage their stress, such as practicing self-care, seeking support, and working with a coach, leaders and executives can improve their work performance, as well as their overall quality of life.
Online classes and education as well as individual coaching, in person or remotely, have proven to benefit individual health, well-being and performance, whether at work or in your private life.