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Tag Archives: stress at work

Stressed woman at laptop biting pencil
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

For many leaders, stress seems to become the norm. They are constantly dealing with managing people, projects, and clients…all in between attending many, many meetings.

Stress does NOT have to be the norm. You can still be a good leader AND cut your workload (in fact, freeing yourself up and de-stressing may make you a better leader).

Here are 4 ways to start cutting stress:

1. Delegate

If you want something right, you have to do it yourself, right? …Right?

Not at all.

Sure, if you hand off a task, it might be approached in a different way than what you intended, but that doesn’t mean that approach is wrong. It’s just different…and different can be good! “Different” can bring variety and new ways of thinking or solving problems. Part of delegation means letting go some of your control. It means opening yourself up to others’ methods and perspectives.

Effective delegation involves handing over the reins with enough instructions to make things happen, but also giving a certain amount of freedom to the person who will be performing the task. Remember: even if the person is a bit slow or clumsy at the task at first, they will learn. Give them time.

2. Step Away From the Office

Despite what you might think, you are not a machine. You are human, and humans need to occasionally rest and rejuvenate.

Schedule meaningful breaks into your daily schedule–time when you’re completely unplugged from work. Go on a walk, read a book at lunch, get a massage, or attend your child’s soccer game.

In addition to your small daily breaks, schedule vacations into your year. Even a few days at a cabin on a lake will do wonders for your stress levels.

3. Prioritize

What are the items or tasks that truly need your attention? What are you unable to delegate to others?

Prioritize your task list, based on the assignments you need to handle personally. Your other to-do items can probably be delegated or outright skipped. For instance, are you really needed at every single meeting? Can your team handle certain meetings on their own?

Make a to-do list at the beginning of each week, in addition to the start of each day. This will help put big-picture tasks in perspective. It is also helpful to hold a quarterly planning session to look at the even bigger picture in the office.

4. Make Meaningful Connections

Being a leader can seem lonely at times. To overcome the isolation, make an effort to communicate with others and make meaningful connections. This will inevitably involve being vulnerable and allowing your authentic self to come to the surface.

Of course, you have to maintain some professionalism when communicating with your team, but you shouldn’t be afraid to show them that you’re human. You have interests; you make mistakes; you have a family and a life outside the office walls.

Just the act of reaching out and asking someone about their day will help you form better bonds with that individual. And, when you feel that you have friends (and a support system) in the office, that can cut stress significantly.

As a leader, you don’t have to let stress consume your life! Take charge of your leadership by delegating tasks, taking meaningful breaks, and developing an internal support system. Now, breathe!

If you’d like to read more about how to beat stress, take a look at my post on stress-busting techniques.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S NEW ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Your vacation from work checklist

In past blog posts, I’ve written about the benefits of taking time away from the daily grind to rest and rejuvenate. It really is beneficial to your mental, physical, and emotional health to take a vacation and get away from the office for a little while. Taking this R&R time helps you from getting worn down, burned out, and even gives your health a boost.

But, what if you have trouble truly getting away? What if you’re physically in another place, but your mind is still in the office, worrying about clients or invoices? That kind of defeats the purpose of getting away. When you’re constantly worrying about how things are going back at work, you’re not allowing yourself to rest and revitalize.

To prevent obsessing about work while you’re away, it’s a good idea to properly prepare for your vacation. Spend a little time now to enjoy your vacation later.

Use my handy Vacation Checklist as a guide:

-Set an automatic vacation response for all incoming emails. If you’d really like peace of mind, keep the response active for one day after you return from vacation to give yourself a little catch up time.

-Delegate tasks to co-workers or staff. You probably have some weekly or monthly responsibilities that will slip through the cracks unless someone else does them. Ask a co-worker or two if they could take care of those tasks, and assure them you’ll return the favor if and when they go on vacation. BONUS TIP: Schedule the assigned tasks on a calendar, share them with your co-worker, and set a notification for when the task should be completed.

-Anticipate potential fires. If you have a particularly troublesome client or a tricky weekly report that you always write, anticipate any hangups and do a little planning. Tell your troublesome client you’ll be out of town, and give them the phone number of a co-worker (with their permission, of course) who can help them. Train someone on how to write that tricky report. These actions will help you prepare for this vacation and others down the road.

-Check your tech. If you must check emails (though I hope you can take a little break!) while you’re away, make sure you’re able to remotely access your inbox without issue. Once you’ve confirmed that everything is functioning properly, commit to only checking email ONCE PER DAY. Get up, spend a few minutes addressing any pressing emails, and move on with your day.

-Give yourself permission to rest. Many of us feel guilty when we’re given a sustained amount of time to relax and do absolutely nothing for a change. If running around like a mad person is your norm, putting on the brakes and doing nothing can make you uncomfortable. Before going on vacation, come to terms with this. Tell yourself that this is “you time.” You’re investing in yourself, and you are worth it. You can also look at it from a work perspective: By spending this time away from the office, you are equipping yourself to be mentally sharper, emotionally rejuvenated, and physically healthier. You’re investing in your personal wellbeing.

I hope you have a chance to get away sometime soon, and when you do, I hope you’ll allow yourself to be truly present. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Take morning strolls. Notice and enjoy your surroundings. Just breathe.

Margaret Smith is a career coach, author, Insights® Discovery (and Deeper Discovery) Licensed Practitioner, and founder of UXL. She hosts WORKSHOPS for people who need career or personal guidance.
NOW LIVE: Check out Margaret’s NEW online Leadership Course.


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UXL stress busting tips

It’s the holiday season and things can get hectic. Take a bite out of stress! Here are some quick practices to help you relax and revitalize:

  1. Breathe deeply

The steady rhythm of your breath has a calming effect on the mind, much like any repetitive, soothing sound or motion.

 

  1. Eat a healthy lunch

According to Dr. Pat Bass, a healthy diet is an essential element to combating stress.

 

  1. Exercise

Find something that works for YOU and practice it regularly!

 

  1. Mind relaxers

Do a crossword puzzle, squeeze a stress ball, paint a picture, doodle in your notebook.

 

  1. Yoga/mindfulness

Yoga helps you focus on the ebb and flow of your breath, as well as releasing the tension in your muscles

Yoga business woman

 

  1. Schedule “you time”

Write it on the calendar! Set aside some time to do exactly what you want to do.

 

  1. Schedule family time

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.”

 

  1. Walk outside

Vitamin D is essential for your skin and just being in the outdoors has a revitalizing, rejuvenating effect

 

  1. Laugh

Laughter reduces stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Watch a funny movie, read the comics, or go to a comedy show.

 

  1. Be present

Focus on the here and now instead of getting stressed about the future or regretting something in the past. My book, The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge, devotes an entire chapter to this concept.

reconnect with old friends

 

  1. Network/reconnect with friends/find your support group

We all need a support group. If you have close friends in the area, make an effort to reach out to them from time to time. If not, find a supportive community through meet-up groups, your local community center, etc. My last newsletter on Building Community discusses this topic in-depth.

 

  1. Indulge in your interests

Do you like to knit? Paint? Practice Tae Kwon Do? Work your interests into your schedule

 

  1. Massage

Everyone loves a professional massage, but if you’re short on time or don’t want to spend the money, give yourself a hand massage or shoulder rub.

 

  1. Listen to music

“Music calms the savage beast” and it can also reduce tension. Pick your favorite genre and let Pandora find the perfect music mix for you.

 

  1. Practice gratitude

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, a grateful person is generally a happier, more optimistic person.

practice gratitude, UXL

 

  1. Count/recite a mantra

The rhythm of counting or reciting a mantra can help calm your mind. Additionally, a positive mantra (i.e. “I can do anything,” “I am smart and strong,” or “Nothing can get in my way”) can give you an added confidence boost.

 

  1. Close your eyes

Sometimes closing your eyes is a good way to distance yourself from your troubles. It also helps you focus on your thoughts without letting visual distractions get in the way.

 

  1. Get organized

A neat and tidy desk or house can help focus your thoughts. Too much clutter can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

 

  1. Free write

Get your thoughts down on paper. Write whatever comes to mind if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to sort through a complex issue.

 

  1. Plan a vacation

Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, it’s fun to plan a future vacation. It also gives you something to work towards—a long term reward.

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