If the Stress Is Becoming Intolerable, This is What to Do
If there is one thing 2020 has given all of us, it’s a lot of stress. Coping and managing stress is a skill leaders need to relieve the pressure in their lives and help employees manage their stress so they don’t pass it on to customers.
I often say, Happy Employees Make Happy Customers, which is also the title of my latest book. However, happy employees are not stressed out, making managing stress a priority for today’s leaders.
However, managing stress is easier said than done. To get some help in this effort, we share the advice of Carmen Mohan, MD, FACP, founder of Hello Health. Dr. Mohan started Hello Health, a comprehensive executive health and wellbeing program, to help leaders manage and cope with stress themselves and their teams.
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In this episode, we discuss Dr. Mohan’s consultative approach to stress management. She says leaders often feel alone in their experience and, even when overwhelmed, push hard to keep going, so they meet other people’s needs. She suggests leaders should realize they are not alone and that stress is common among leadership positions. Stress comes from making critical decisions quickly and professional and personal demands pulling leaders in many directions at once. Some people feel stressed because they know other people are struggling more than they are, and they feel guilty that they have it pretty good.
Managing this stress is essential. First, it is hard to lead a team to success in a stressed-out state. When leaders are stressed, they often can’t get the perspective they need to solve problems in the best possible way. Finally, stressed managers cannot help their teams cope with their pressures, leading to a less than exemplary Customer Experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t helping matters, either. None of us has ever been through a pandemic before, so we don’t know what to do. We also do not know when it will end, and uncertainty does not do anything good for anyone’s stress level. Add to it the acute pressures caused by the pandemic, like the fear of getting yourself or someone you care about sick or the financial insecurity caused by the shut-downs and stay-at-home orders, among others, and you have a perfect storm of high-stress times and truly anxious people.
To combat these effects, Dr. Mohan has a few actionable steps.
- Make time for self-care and sleep. Dr. Mohan says that addressing your needs makes you better equipped to handle others’ needs, even if it feels like there is no time for it.
- Celebrate what you did accomplish so you can rest deeply. Dr. Mohan encourages leaders to write down at least one accomplishment each day to focus on, so the mind can relax and rest deeply at night, giving the best restorative sleep to the body.
- Start the day by meeting your needs. Dr. Mohan encourages people to start the day doing something they like, not checking the phone and diving into the day. If your brain knows you will begin the day this way, it will relax more and sleep better.
- Find that decompression time you have lost. Many people find that the loss of decompression time resulting from working from home or blurring the lines between work and home life difficult. Dr. Mohan encourages people to take a walk outside to clear their minds.
- Find a way to keep your thoughts in the present. People who feel anxious or guilty that other people are having problems and are struggling would be well served to occupy their thoughts with the here and now. By keeping your mind occupied in the present with a task, you cannot worry about the past or the future.
Here are some highlights of the discussion:
- 04:28 Dr. Mohan addresses the problem of marginal thinking in stress management for leaders.
- 07:36 We have a few actionable steps for coping with stressors.
- 14:18 Dr. Mohan shares how to get your mind to relax enough to get into the deep restorative sleep necessary for stress management.
- 20:17 Find out the easy fix to “bookend” sleep and help the mind relax during stressful times.
- 25:04 We cover the importance of finding moments to decompress from work to home life.
- 26:49 Dr. Mohan addresses how to alieve guilty feelings when you are not struggling as much as other people you know with essential activities.
- 28:40 We get into the advice for leaders to pass this along to their teams.
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LinkedIn recognizes Colin Shaw as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers.’ As a result, he has 289,000 followers of his work. Shaw is Founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy LLC, which helps organizations unlock growth by discovering customers’ hidden, unmet needs that drive value ($). The Financial Times selected Beyond Philosophy LLC as one of the best management consultancies for the last two years. Follow Colin on Linkedin and Twitter.
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