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Managing Stress During a Crisis

How do you effectively handle your stress during a crisis period without compromising your leadership.

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Leadership can take a toll on the best of us and during a crisis situation you may experience an inordinate amount of situations that could accelerate your stress levels. High levels of stress could cause a negative influence on your leadership and ruin your decision making capacity at a crucial time to an alarming extent.

The stress gradually builds up as the body and mind give way to sleepless nights and high doses of caffeine. It goes unnoticed as you try to resolve the many issues that have been thrown at you during a crisis, to the best of your diminishing abilities. And one fine day, the stress finally takes its toll and you are left in shambles.

Stress comes with the territory for most leaders but when it piles up, you will have to find ways to deal with it to avoid burnout.

To assist you, here are a few stress management techniques for leaders

Accept it!

It may seem out-of-character for a leader to admit they’re feeling stressed and put on a brave face when they’re wondering which way to turn. Acknowledging the situation is an important step, as is trying to see where there are opportunities to improve.

Recognize the signs

Everyone experiences stress, but it can be more prevalent in a crisis situation, especially a prolonged one such as we’re experiencing now. However, when it is affecting your life, health, wellbeing and capacity to function your role it is important to tackle it as soon as possible, and while stress affects everyone differently, there are common signs and symptoms you can look out for.

Prioritize some time for yourself

You’re probably worried about how you’re still going to achieve your company goals and objectives or how your business will survive the outcome of the pandemic. You’re probably also working additional hours and any thought of taking time off is far from your mind. However, if you want to be an effective leader during this period, you need to take care of your mental and physical well-being first. Take out time to exercise – (even a 20 minute walk is effective), listen to podcasts, meditate. Do everything you can to keep yourself sane and happy. Put yourself first because you need it.

Delegate tasks and narrow your focus

You cannot be all things to all wo/men! Leaders who try to do it, are making a common error. Trying to spin all the proverbial plates can result in you losing focus. When you lose focus, you invite more stress, and when you are more stressed, you are counterproductive to the organization. Acknowledge the strengths and abilities of your team and delegate accordingly. Trust them to do the job you employed them to do and avoid micro-managing as that unnecessarily affects your time. Narrow down your focus by prioritizing your tasks for each day and adjust the task within productive working hours.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

I can’t emphazise enough that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In a world where we feel we have to demonstrate that we’re in control of things, where we try not to let anyone help because we are afraid of how our leadership prowess will be perceived, we can be reluctant to reach out for help. Not asking for support when we need it just leads to additional stress and causes sour relations for all those involved. To cope with stress, the first step is to ask for help; if not from someone you know then from a Coach or a mental health specialist. I know it can lonely at the top, but we all need someone to turn to, someone to encourage us, someone who can assure us that it will be Ok. More than any other time, you need all the support you can get during a crisis.  

Defend Your Boundaries!

Being able to say No is one of the preliminary steps to beating stress and to prioritize both people and things in your life. You don’t always have to say YES to be the good leader! A good leader knows when to say no, even if it means them being unpopular.  

Get Active and Watch Your Diet

Know that your health has a direct impact on your mood, your mind, your ability to perform and even your relationship with everyone around you. Exercise enables your body to be at its functional best add to this a healthy diet, limited caffeine and replacing fats with fruits then you’re on to a stress winning formula! Thousands of leaders and entrepreneurs have repeatedly attributed a healthy lifestyle to lower levels of stress and frustration.

Focus on the Controllables.

You can’t control what’s out of your control! In a crisis situation you are probably going to be faced with lots of things that are out of your control! If you’re used to things going your way and even more so expecting things to fall perfectly into place, you’re going to be disappointed. So focus on controlling the controllables.

Whilst there may not be a magic formula for dealing with stress in a crisis, the more knowledge and preparedness you have, the less overwhelming and stressful a crisis will feel to be in the heat of the moment.

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