Combat stress at work: Coping techniques for leaders

“Didn’t sleep again last night.”

“I can never get home on time”

“Had another nightmare about missing the critical milestone.”

Sound familiar? We see more and more leaders struggling with work/life balance and even suffering from burnout. 

While it’s impossible to avoid stress at all times, there are habits that you can build to help cope with it when it rears its head. We explore some useful tactics for coping with stress at work below. 

Note: if you have felt extreme stress for a prolonged period of time, we recommend speaking to an expert. Burnout is serious, and stress can have serious effects on your health. The following techniques aren’t intended as solutions to more extreme cases.

The “burnout” check-up for business leaders.

Leaders might be some of the worst at spotting when their own productivity is unsustainable. In an interview with Management Today, one leader admitted they ‘don’t do burnout.’ Our 5-minute check-up helps you identify good and bad habits and delivers recommendations on how to move towards a sustainable work style. Take it here!

Ways to deal with stress at work

Focus on your breathing

When was the last time you took a moment to breathe?

Deep breathing has been proven to soothe and regulate the autonomic nervous system. (Healthline) There are many techniques to practice it – we like box breathing because it’s simple and visual. It’s also something you can do anywhere, making it the perfect technique for coping with a stressful moment at your desk.

Next time stress creeps up on you, take a 2 – 5 minute time out and focus on long, slow, and steady breaths. This mindful moment will work to soothe your stress receptors and help you get some perspective.

Try a 5 – 10 minute meditation states, “Present-moment awareness involves monitoring and attending to current experience rather than predicting future events or dwelling on the past. Studies show that an individual’s disposition toward remaining in the present moment is linked to numerous health benefits, including lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety and depression, improved mood, and a sense of improved well-being.” 

Meditation is an excellent way to practice being present. You can find free meditations on YouTube that guide you through it so that all you need to worry about is slowing down your mind and engaging with the moment.

At One TEAM, being present is one of our core values. We believe that engaging in the here and now is the most impactful and efficient way to spend each moment. It’s not always easy – as a leader, your attention is being pulled in a million directions. But this is one of those things where practice makes progress!

Practice gratitude

When you’re stressed, it’s normal for negative or pessimistic thoughts to creep in. Practicing gratitude might feel like the very last thing you want to do, but it can help to reframe how you perceive what’s going on around you and get you through the difficult patches.

Next time you feel stressed at work, take a moment to become aware of what’s around you. Is there a nice view to appreciate? A picture of your family? Can you hear someone laughing nearby? When things feel heavy and dark, taking a moment to tap into light and joy can bring some relief. 

Of course, this isn’t a magic solution. Sometimes it isn’t an appropriate tactic for dealing with stress – if you don’t have it in you today to practice gratitude, don’t force it. Try returning to one of your other techniques for coping, from breathing to meditation to taking yourself outside for a short walk. 
At One TEAM, we believe in bringing our whole selves to work. That includes the messy bits – the stress, the tiredness, the anxiety. Of course, we have invested in building a culture that aims to alleviate these responses, but nobody is perfect. And being human is what makes us great at what we do.

If you agree with this ethos, sign up for our newsletter. In it, we cover topics like “Influencing without authority at work,” “Authenticity in the workplace,” and “Setting boundaries at work (the importance of saying no).” Basically, anything that supports stress management, productivity, and learning how to be your true self at work. We look forward to seeing you there!


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