Nobody is immune to stress. So how do business leaders who make it big manage to keep their heads on straight?
They learn to befriend their stress response. But if that’s the first step, then what are the day-to-day, ongoing things they do to harness their stress in healthy ways?
The following tips, collected from top business leaders throughout the country, will equip you with the necessary tools to manage your stress:
Become The Master Of Your Own Stress
The ultimate goal of stress management is not a stress-free career; it’s to get the upper hand when you’re under pressure.
Small habits add up. Master your stress levels by incorporating these hacks from respected business leaders into your own routine:
1. Be proactive.
Often, stress and procrastination go hand in hand. Instead of putting off that major task or big project, get the ball rolling by taking initiative.
That’s what Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, would advise: “Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over,” Bezos told the Academy of Achievement.
Every marathon begins with the first step. Whether you make that initial phone call or send an email to jumpstart a project, taking action alleviates stress and puts you back in the driver’s seat.
2. Tackle one to-do at a time.
When faced with multiple projects and responsibilities, many founders try to juggle everything at once. But author and leadership consultant Devora Zack sees single-tasking as both more efficient and less stressful.
Research by the American Psychological Association supports Zack’s idea that multitasking actually makes us less productive, which creates more pressure to get things done.
Go through your to-do list one item at a time. You’ll enjoy it more, come up with a better product, and get the job done faster.
3. Get grounded.
When you need a break, you need a break. Research shows that giving yourself a break during the workday not only allows you to recharge, but it can also boost creativity, memory, stamina, and decision-making skills.
There are many ways to achieve this mental state referred to as “resting mind.” Oprah Winfrey admits she retreats to the bathroom when she needs time for quiet reflection. Many leaders start off their day with ten or fifteen minutes of silent meditation.
No matter your method, check in with yourself throughout the day to calm your stress response. Even just planting your feet on the ground while sitting at your desk and allowing yourself a few deep breaths can do wonders.
4. Block your day.
How does Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, keep his cool when working 100 hours per week at the two companies? With time blocking. Musk carves up his day into five-minute pieces, associating each with a specific task or activity.
Stress management and time management are twin siblings. Instead of pushing your mental limits to finish a project deadline — and throwing everything that comes later in the day off-schedule — organize your time into similarly sized blocks.
Not only does this allow for much needed breaks, it also provides you with the opportunity to break down bigger projects. The more pieces you can split them into, the less stressful any one of them will be.
5. Get enough exercise.
Physical activity is one of the best tools in your stress-management kit. Exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise, releases endorphins and refreshes your mind.
Leaders from Mark Cuban to Mark Zuckerberg to Richard Branson to Warren Buffett exercise daily. The Facebook founder loves to run, while Mark Cuban is known for his basketball game.
Exercise doesn’t have to happen at the gym, either. Try doing calisthenics at home. Go for a run. Haul your bike out of the garage for your daily commute each morning. Whatever gets you moving, do it.
6. Refocus on a mental puzzle or game.
What if your mind is simply stuck on something stressful? Stick it to something else: Play a game of sudoku. Break out a crossword puzzle. Merely count stripes on the road as you walk.
Here, Brad Pitt has an interesting approach: the actor and investor walks around and analyzes building architecture when he’s feeling overwhelmed. Inevitably, Pitt’s mind moves to his own home’s structural needs.
Overcoming pressure and tension when you’re a business professional or entrepreneur can seem insurmountable. However, altering small daily habits can make a huge impact in managing and mastering your stress for good.