The most successful people I've met are exceptionally adept at handling the stressors that go hand-in-hand with entrepreneurial leadership. They certainly have no shortage of stressful situations in their lives. In fact, they undoubtedly encounter more than their fair share.
But the most highly effective people know how to better process high-stress situations. Then, they find efficient ways to offset or counteract the stressors they face. Here are three keys to healthy stress management you can adopt in your day-to-day interactions.
1. Surround yourself with the right people.
Some events and life circumstances are simply beyond your control. Certain people, in particular, can be a major source of frustration. You encounter these stress-inducing individuals regularly and on an involuntary basis. Quitting your job or firing the customer isn't always a realistic option. Obnoxious coworkers, an incompetent boss or the occasional difficult client all can raise your blood pressure.
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A big part of managing stress is choosing carefully the friends, new contacts and even family members with whom you'll voluntarily spend your time. You don't want to fill your recreational hours with people who add to your stress. These energy "drains" have an uncanny ability to make nearly every situation seem more dire than it actually is. They're often pessimistic and negative, and that has a way of contaminating everything they touch.
Conversely, people who handle stress the right way are deliberate in choosing their company. They surround themselves with "radiators" who have a way of uplifting others naturally. Picture the friend who can take your mind off of a tense situation, put things in perspective at the right time or help you work through a serious issue. The radiator is a crucial component of your stress-response strategy. He or she might be a supporter, a shoulder to lean on or a trusted advisor.
2. Delete items from your to-do list.
Staying occupied never is an issue for a busy professional. The real challenge is carving out the time for all the things you want to do.
Most successful people develop organizational skills to help them manage it all. They rely on their to-do lists and find a system that works for them -- from scribbles on scratch paper to a sleek app for their laptop or smartphone.
Even so, it's all too easy to fall into the habit of mindlessly adding to the list throughout the day. The leads only to an unconscious attempt to tackle each task, one by one. In the midst of emails, meetings and conference calls, the list that's blank at 8 a.m. quickly can get out of control by lunch time.
Minimize your odds of getting overwhelmed by taking on only what you know you can deliver. Delegate some items or prioritize and delete those that aren't truly necessary. Focus your attention on the most impactful action items, or you'll waste all your energy slogging through a list.
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3. Create an outlet for your frustrations.
It's best to avoid stress when possible, and by now you've learned a few more ways to do just that. But some stressors are inevitable. When they come your way, you need a healthy way to deal with them. Some successful people exercise to blow off steam. Others unplug for a night to reset their minds.
Writing works wonders for many people. Journaling your daily experiences is a way to express your dreams and your frustrations without the anxiety of wondering what others might think. Many people draft cathartic emails without clicking the "Send" button. It allows them to vent and air the words they'd really like to say (if there were no repercussions). In this case, it's safest to leave the "To" field blank, so an accidental keystroke doesn't lead to even greater stress. Whatever the format your writing takes, getting these frustrations off your chest can have a therapeutic effect.
The world-shakers don't back away from major responsibility and challenges. As a result, stress always will be a part of the package. Be smart about whom you choose to share your time, don't take on more than you can handle and find healthy outlets that work for you. Reframe your stress as a temporary state, and you take away its power to become a permanent fixture in your life.