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July 05, 2022

Stress Management: Tools for Achieving Work-Life Balance

Not long ago, business leaders were expected to tough it out and suffer their job stress in silence. If you couldn’t, you were thought unfit to lead.

Today, we know better – stress kills. Yet it’s a constant companion to performing under pressure. Managing stress is perhaps the most significant skill a business leader can master.

Work-life balance can help reduce stress and the possibility of burnout. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; it means different things to different people. How to achieve work-life balance is a discussion that’s constantly evolving. Contrary to common perception, work-life balance is about a lot more than the hours you’re putting in.

Here are some simple tools you can immediately put to work to improve your work-life balance.

Finding Inspiration At Work

You didn’t have to become a business leader. Something inspired you. But it’s possible that since you started, you’ve gone off course in some ways that are making the job more stressful than it should be.

  • Get back in touch with the vision that drove you to take a leadership position. Take actionable steps to revive that inspiration. Check your blind spots for anything that could be creating unneeded stress.
  • Effective leaders tend to focus on five areas: vision, earnings, putting the right people into the right jobs, building key relationships, and continual improvement. If you are juggling anything else, do your best to delegate it.

If you’re stuck in a do-it-all mindset, the only thing that will exceed projections is your stress level. The best thing you can do for your company is to do your job, not everyone else’s.

Being Present

If you’re all about business, all the time, then eventually, your business will feel hollow and inauthentic. Here are some tips to make your time more meaningful:

  • Schedule your priorities. Each year, make your first calendar entries about family vacations, weekend getaways, and regularly scheduled fitness activities such as gym workouts and tennis lessons. Get them on your schedule first, and keep them sacred.
  • Be present in whatever you’re doing. Your wife doesn’t want to share date night with whichever colleague you keep texting. Your kids will notice if you spend most of their basketball games on your phone or laptop. Friends are no different.
  • Get yourself out of the company bubble. Anything that expands your horizons is good for stress management. Engaging in philanthropy, arts and other external experiences can get new ideas flowing.
  • Start each day with gratitude and reflection. This practice helps many business leaders reduce stress.

Remember that if doing your job was easy, everyone would be doing it. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments, and be grateful for those whose support has helped you get where you are.

Prioritizing Sleep

You cannot get by with power naps and irregular night-time sleep habits. Regardless of your physical fitness level, you need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to recharge.

  • Turn off your electronics – laptop, cell phone, and television – an hour before bedtime. The few emails or phone calls you’ll be skipping are not worth the detriment they will cause to your body’s ability to transition naturally into sleep mode.
  • Follow the same bedtime routine each night, such as reading for a few minutes, meditating, or thinking about those things that make you grateful.

Your mental and physical health requires regular, sound sleep. Without it, something will eventually short circuit – and as those things go, that will most likely occur at the worst possible time. This is an often overlooked but essential component of achieving a healthy work-life balance.

Exercising Regularly

Do you enjoy going to the gym? Spending an hour working out each day is not indulgent. It’s a healthy outlet for stress.

  • While at work, get out of your chair at least once an hour and stroll around the office or worksite. Five minutes can make a difference in your long-term physical (and mental) health and fitness. Stretch. Take a few deep breaths.  Get your head clear and your heart pumping.
  • Get an adjustable desk and stand up for some of your Zoom meetings. Consider turning any meetings in the office with small groups into walking meetings around your corporate campus or neighborhood.
  • Take warning signs seriously. As we alluded to previously in the article, a know-it-all/do-it-all leader is bad for business. The same goes for a leader who applies those principles to their health, although it could prove fatal in this case.
  • Don’t be one of the 44% of Americans who go online to self-diagnose rather than visit a medical professional. Often, these searches are just self-fulfilling prophecies – people keep clicking until they find confirmation of their preconceived notion of what’s wrong with them.

See your doctor if you are feeling the physical manifestations of stress – headaches, racing heartbeats, a general feeling of dis-ease. No other calendar appointment matters more.

Final Thoughts

To be the high-achieving leader you want to be, you need to structure your life so you are doing work that you love, with people you like to be around while staying fully engaged with your family and those most important to you.

One area that shouldn’t be a source of stress is your business insurance. Count on Heffernan Insurance Brokers to provide forward-thinking coverage for 21st-century exposures. We can help you with your employee benefits and personal insurance, too.

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