With all the daily stresses we experience from having an always-connected lifestyle and now with the COVID-19 isolation turning our homes into office/daycare centers will only lead to an ever-increasing level of stress never experienced before!
Not only is it affecting our work performance, but more so our family relationships which are potentially facing long-term damage if not managed in the proper way.
After interviewing dozens of leading CEOs from around the world, we decided to create a list of how to not only manage but better control your stress level, because as an old saying goes:
“Control your stress before it controls you.”
IDENTIFY THE SOURCE
The first step is to identify what is the core cause of your stress. Behind all situations that have somehow managed to get out of control, there is usually 1 core stress point. By identifying the core root of your stress, it will single-handedly give you the upper hand in understanding how to use your strength to win the battle.
Start with identifying and making sense of what is taking over your actions and mind. Most often, when we identify the root cause, we discover that it was not that big of a deal in the first place and it could have been calmly solved. Instead, we let our emotions take us to a point where we can no longer see clearly on the situation.
The first step to take: Identify the core reason(s) and understand why they elicit such a reaction in you. Focus, and eliminate. Rinse and repeat until your mind's focus is clear.
THE ANSWERS ARE ALL AROUND YOU
Understanding how your body and mind react to stress is vital to taking control before it takes control of you. Are you raising your voice or losing your patience over the smallest issues? Are your heart rate and breathing increasing more than usual? Are you snapping at people who don’t deserve to – worst of all, your kids?
LOOK AT THE SITUATION LIKE AN OUTSIDE COUNCIL WOULD
You’re a high-performing CEO who deals with problems on a daily basis and whose sole task is to not only solved them but help your company thrive on becoming better. Managing your stress is no different than any challenges that you are tasked with solving for your shareholders.
Take a breather and treat yourself like a specialized outside counsel who has been tasked to identify the problem and provide a solution with no emotions involved.
Change the perspective by disconnecting yourself from yourself!
A consultant would have no emotions about the situation and would cut through the theatrics of the affair. They would pinpoint the root of the problem, identify how to handle the next steps, and identify what the repercussions or benefits could be.
Separate yourself from yourself and focus on the problem without the conflict of interest of being part of the problem.
You might find that you don’t need to try so hard at ‘getting out’ when there are several doors you can take that are unlocked and just waiting to be opened rather than pushed upon.
KISS IT GOODBYE!
Stop overcomplicate things and better start using the KISS system (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Break the perceived problem down to its most simplistic form and be honest with yourself if it truly is serious or not.
Small issues that somehow felt so big, will melt-away and seem almost trivial and easy to solve.
CREATE A ROADMAP TO A FINAL SOLUTION
Identify where you want to be once it’s all solved and ‘back-track’ yourself like you would with a project schedule to where you are now with key points that will get you to your desired location.
Just like in business, don’t be afraid to PIVOT when all doesn’t go according to plan. Know the final result and stick to the plan.
This will help you stay focused and help keep your stress under control as your focus will be working to finding a solution rather than running wild with a worst-case scenario imagination.
FOCUS ON UNPLUGGING
Thinking all the time about a problem is not going to solve the problem, but make it bigger than it should truly be. Ask yourself how this problem rates on a scale of 1 to 10 as compared to receiving news of a major health complication? Would the problem still be significant? Would it even matter in the grander scale of things?
Most often than not, the answer is no and you can finally let go at least for one evening or a day as your family and kids need you now!
Be present and appreciate what is truly important in your life.
Get rid of all distractions that are somehow associated or triggered by work and focus on being there with them and understand truly how lucky you are. BE 100% PRESENT! Not being in the moment and truly present with family was noted as one of the biggest regrets with all CEOs we interviewed. Learn from them and don’t make the same mistake.
AVOID EXTERNAL STIMULANTS
Coming home to a nice glass of wine after a stressful day is always a welcome relaxer. But too much of it brought on by stress can increase stimulations in parts of the brain that are causing you to feel stressed. Your imagination and paranoia will be heightened to a state where you truly will make an ‘elephant out of a fly’. Not to mention the feelings of self-shame the morning after for feeling so ‘foggy’ for what you might have said to your family, children or god forbid on social media!
Better opt for a glass of water and avoid stimulants 2 hours before going to bed. Better yet, avoid all stimulants if you can.
We can only learn and adapt when we are well-rested.
SHUT IT DOWN FOR A NIGHT
A good night’s sleep is a key driver to decompressing. Stress seems to come on the hardest at night when being sleepless and the world is silent around you. All you have is your mind wandering into extremes that are not realistic and sometimes delve into the absurd.
Before bed or during the night, avoid at all cost looking at your phone as Harvard researchers have found that the bright light of your electronics fools your mind into believing its daytime. Relax your mind and if this is a problem in the short term, a sleeping pill can aid you in getting a deep night’s sleep. As an alternative to sleeping pills, you can try taking melatonin which naturally relaxes your brain into a comfortable sleep mode.
Lack of sleep will not only damage your health but affect your focus on problem-solving such as your stress – Actually it will more than likely make it worse due to lack of focus and staying calm in intense situations both at home and at work.
Mornings always seem to have a way to shine a light back into your mind and provide you with time to focus and see things more clearly.
There is a reason why so many of the top CEOs opt for getting up very early with the average Fortune 100 CEO getting up at 05:00 a.m. or earlier. They get more done without distractions so they can focus on the day ahead with a clear mind and vision to the results needed.
Visualizing while doing yoga or meditating, and hitting the gym has been recognized by many leading CEOs as one of the key elements in their morning routines.
Science as proven that people who rise early focus better and have a better attitude when it comes to hard challenges. In fact, their stress levels are lowered by such a considerable level, that they don’t see problems but rather see them as opportunities for growth.
As a bonus aspect of rising early, you don't have to deal with morning traffic which helps to avoid the unnecessary stress of traffic jams.
Get to bed earlier, and rise with birds. As the age-old saying goes;
“Early bird, gets the worm!”
VISUALIZE YOUR FINAL DESTINATION
World-level athletes such as former world champion track star Bruny Surin swear by the power of visualization as the best way to focus and to get to where you need to be by keeping your balance both at home and work intact.
Create a timeslot each day that is calming and void of possible interruptions such as driving to work, your morning workout, yoga, meditating, etc. and focus only on yourself.
"If you can see it and believe it, it is a lot easier to achieve it." - Oprah
Find something that stimulates your mind such as music and visualize your day, your plans, and how you will overcome challenges with the end in mind working backward as we mentioned earlier.
Train yourself to mentally decompress at the earliest signs of stress so that it will not have the chance to take hold of your mind and mood.
ELEVATE TO THE NEXT LEVEL
There is a great saying that makes it clear to move forward now:
“Tomorrow has now become today”
There is no time to dwell on the past because it already happened.
It’s time to move forward on your terms, clear-minded, and with no one or nothing like a little stress that can stop you from what you are capable of achieving with a clear vision to the future!
Now that you are calm and stress-free…
Steady. Ready. GO!