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Staying Productive While Stressed: Self-care Secrets of a CEO

Instead of avoiding stress, make it play by your own rules.

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It’s Monday morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’ve just started sipping your first cup of coffee of the day. You think to yourself, “It’s going to be a great week.” As you start reviewing your calendar and to-do list, you begin to feel a little overwhelmed wondering why you didn’t wrap up this project or that report on Friday afternoon. You sigh and remind yourself that it will be a hectic week, but productive none-the-less. Then you see it. Multiple emails marked urgent flood your inbox and just like that, the plans you had for handling your hectic, yet a productive week, are out the window. Your optimism fades and you’re officially
stressed out.

When you’re stressed out, the desire to breed a flurry of activity can feel like an impossible task, let alone the ability to innovate, which is really the most essential task of any successful manager. Halting innovation at the top will ultimately create a bottleneck of stagnant energy that will permeate throughout the organization. This is why the ability to cope with stress is an
absolute necessity for any good manager and entrepreneur. In this article, I will highlight a few key practices that you can do to remain productive amid stress.

Be Proactive: Keep the Energy Tank Full

As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. As managers and entrepreneurs, I think it’s safe to say that we can expect a certain amount of stress throughout our careers. One basic way to frighten off the “Sunday scaries” of the impending week is to keep your energy at a maximum. This means eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising. Nothing can trigger a meltdown quite like getting inconvenient news while exhausted and having a malnourished body and mind. Stress has a much more difficult time creeping in when you are at your best.

While in the midst of a stressful situation, allocate time to take a break in order to calm down and relax, preferably in the company of those who can offer support, alone or using an app such as Verv. Practice breathing techniques to help get you centered. Taking a moment to step away
and clear your head will help you refocus and see the situation in a new light, prompting a solution instead of anxiety.

source: gettyimages.com

Plan for Work and Play: You Have More Time Than You Think

When looking at a seemingly never-ending to-do list and an ever-dwindling amount of time on your calendar as a whole, it’s easy to over-estimate how complicated and time-consuming each task may actually be. You may have more time for yourself than initially calculated.

First thing’s first: switch from coffee to herbal tea on a big day. This is a quick and easy way to replace jittery, nervous energy with a relaxed one. Next, get small tasks and administrative work completed first thing in the morning so you can start ticking easier tasks off your list. As the day progresses and I’ve turned my attention to more important decisions, I like to take short breaks to exercise to help manage my emotions. For example, leaving the room after a meeting to do 10 squats or jumps. This helps to take me outside of the stressful moment and jumpstart my system.

When it comes to challenges on a global scale, it’s typically quite impossible to prepare for them, but on the other hand, difficult situations often provoke growth and innovation. So, don’t be afraid to make tackle big issues and see where those decisions take you and your business. It’s also useful to plan a nice ending to a hard day. Set aside time to take a hot bath, prepare or pick up your favorite dinner dish, etc. Putting a reminder of this “fun” activity in your calendar will serve to cheer you up throughout the day.

Know Your Limits: Set Personal Boundaries

It is vital that everyone understands their own personal stress threshold. If someone starts a business and can’t cope with the related stressors (i.e., can’t sleep at night, ignoring their health, doesn’t make time for loved ones or beloved activities) there is nothing to be gained from such a burden. The impact of the business-related stress will far outweigh the benefits and will
ultimately be entirely negative. If a person feels prepared and ready to make a commitment and do a job well while creating something new and good in this world, then you’ve been presented with an opportunity to channel stress for betterment and growth…“good stress.”

How do we know where this measuring stick is for each of us? It’s about awareness and a thoughtful approach to life. You need to learn how to live with yourself in the world, understand how to maintain your energy at the maximum level as well as learn how to quickly notice when it starts to decline and take the necessary steps to proactively increase it.

In the end, there is nothing wrong with or abnormal about having a lot of worries, because we are hardwired as humans to handle a lot of tasks and decisions all at once. Like it or not, stress is here to stay, but lucky for us, it serves as the engine of our internal progress and development.

By Luba Pashkovskaya, CEO and founder of Verv.

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