Last week, we shared a post by Quint Studer, “How to Handle Yourself During Stressful, Busy Times.” This week, we’re following up on the post by offering more advice from Struder, author of The Busy Leader’s Handbook: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive.
You are going to be stressed, but you will only make it worse if you can’t calm yourself down in the heat of moment. Studer recommends these tips to calm yourself down quickly:
- Walk away. Take a 20-minute break. Sometimes you have to go for a walk. Physical activity is a great stress reliever. It can help you calm your mind and get some much-needed clarity around what needs to happen next. Little breaks like this are a great opportunity to plug in your headphones and listen to a quick song or audio file that might help relax you. Even better if you can get outside, even for just a moment. Most of the time, a little natural sunlight can make a big difference in your mood.
- Open up your body and take a few deep breaths. Put your shoulders back, head up, and stand tall. Try to intentionally quiet your mind. This is a technique professional athletes have known and used for years to manage stress before a big game. Opening up the body allows for better blood flow, and deep breathing puts more oxygen in the blood and can help minimize the impact of cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Count backward from 10. Do it twice if you have to. Shifting your focus from the problem at hand to a relatively simple task can help you come back to your work with a fresh set of eyes. It also helps your brain reset and refocus. Moving the focus away from your problem and onto an abstract thought, even one as simple as counting from 10, will also help you calm down and control your emotional response. It forces you to use a different part of the brain.
While those tips can calm you down when stress hits the hardes, Studer also recommends that you lay a solid foundation that enables you to better cope with stressful times.
Create a best-odds plan for staying healthy
This gives you the stamina you need—both physical and mental—to cope with stress and keep going. Sleep well, eat well, stay hydrated, and generally take good care of your body so you’ll be in tip-top shape mentally.
That requires discipline and planning, but health and well-being are too important to leave to chance. Good habits fall to the wayside during busy times. You may be tempted to skip lunch because you’re too busy to eat, or you stay up till 1:00 a.m. working. Remind yourself that this is counterproductive. You can’t perform if you are sleep-deprived and sugar-crashing because you didn’t take time to pack a nutritious lunch and ate from the vending machine instead. If you aren’t healthy, you won’t be able to cope when stress levels kick into overdrive.
Learn to reset
Setbacks will happen. Leaders must be able to bounce back quickly and continue to move forward even when things appear to be falling apart. Resiliency is essential as leaders need to have the mental wherewithal to offer support and continue to direct their teams.
Being resilient comes from having good coping skills, supportive environments with a lot of psychological safety, a strong sense of optimism, grit, and the mental and physical stamina to sustain and move through stressful situations. Work on all of these factors but also know that resiliency also comes with growth.
About the Author:
Quint Studer is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller The Busy Leader’s Handbook and a lifelong businessman, entrepreneur, and student of leadership. He not only teaches it; he has done it. He has worked with individuals at all levels and across a variety of industries to help them become better leaders and create high-performing organizations. He seeks always to simplify high-impact leader behaviors and tactics for others.