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How to Handle Leadership Stress Throughout the Day

Being a leader is never easy, especially when you’re trying to keep a small business profitable and consistently operable. Throughout the course of a given day, you’ll probably be forced to wear many hats, solve many problems, and deal with constant distractions and interruptions. On top of that, if your company is facing financial or logistical issues, you might feel overwhelmed with personal stress and anxiety. In this article, we discuss a few ways that you can use to deal with leadership stress.

How do you handle these competing priorities and stress as they develop throughout the day?

The Morning with Leadership Stress


Starting with the morning is perfectly appropriate.

  •       Make your bathroom a place of comfort. Try to start your morning routine in an environment that’s warm and comfortable – and don’t be afraid to splurge on a few luxuries to create that environment. For example, a heated toilet seat and a bidet attachment could instantly make going to the bathroom much cozier and more inviting. A soft, comfy robe could be exactly what you need to start the day feeling good.
  •       Wake up earlier. Most people benefit from waking up just a little bit earlier. This gives you more time to tackle your most important responsibilities in the morning, while simultaneously keeping you on a more fixed, focused schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times each day, even on the weekend, to maintain a steady circadian rhythm.
  •       Exercise. If possible, find time to exercise in the morning. This is a great way to relieve stress, stay in shape, and release endorphins. It can also give you more energy and a clearer mind to start the day with. Even 20 minutes of cardio can make a big impact.
  •       Avoid screens. If you’re the type of person who usually reads the news or starts reading emails even before you get out of bed, consider a different approach. Avoiding screens in the morning can help you keep your mind clearer and delay the onset of inevitable stress.
  •       Eat a good breakfast. You should also make a concentrated effort to eat a good, nutritious breakfast. Include plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates; scrambled eggs and a side of oatmeal with milk is a great example.

Your Lunch Break

By the time lunch rolls around, you’ll probably have a stack of new problems to deal with and declining energy. Here’s how you deal with it:

  •       Stretch. Any exercise can be helpful in your lunch break, but most people don’t have the time or inclination for it. At the very least, consider doing a few minutes of light stretching at your desk.
  •       Meditate. This is also a good opportunity to meditate and clear your mind. There are many meditative techniques worth exploring, but consider starting with mindfulness meditation if you don’t have much experience.
  •       Eat nutritious food. Many people experience a major “crash” in the mid to late afternoon, which could be a result of poor nutritional habits during lunch. Eating sugary and processed foods, or not eating anything at all can cause this eventual crash. Instead, eat a balanced meal with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Consider keeping raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts on hand if you need an energy boost later.

Afternoon Doldrums and Leadership Stress


After lunch, you’ll likely return to work, but your energy and motivation may be on the decline.

  •       Stay hydrated. Pay attention to your hydration levels, especially after lunch. Drink sips of water throughout the day so you don’t fall behind.
  •       Avoid excessive caffeine. There’s nothing wrong with a little caffeine to give you a boost in the morning, but by the afternoon, you should be tapered off. Excessive caffeine can cause anxiety and jitters, and caffeine too late in the day can interfere with your sleep schedule.
  •       Take breaks. Don’t be afraid to take extra breaks in the afternoon. Even breaks of only a few minutes can help you reset your mind and reduce or mitigate stress.
  •       Reach out. Even a brief conversation with a loved one can reduce the stress you feel. Consider reaching out to family members or friends if you need another pick-me-up.

The Evening

In the evening, you’ll have much more time to yourself and more flexibility to choose what you do. Rather than succumbing to superficial activities and temptations, focus on using this time wisely.

  •       Tidy up your physical and virtual workspaces. Spend a few minutes tidying up your physical and virtual workspaces. Catching up on emails, organizing paperwork, and updating your task lists can help you feel clear and organized at the end of the day – and set you up nicely for the next day.
  •       Decompress with something you like. Make sure you engage in hobbies or activities that you truly enjoy. Playing a video game, watching a movie, or taking a warm bubble bath could be exactly what you need to destress.
  •       Journal, reflect, and process. It’s also a good idea to journal about your experiences throughout the day. It’s an opportunity to reflect – and process your thoughts and emotions.

Finding What Works for You with Managing Leadership Stress

Throughout this guide, we’ve provided recommended strategies for dealing with stress at various phases throughout a typical day. However, it’s important to note that different people respond to stress differently and effectively manage stress in distinctive ways. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another, so be sure to experiment and finalize only the stress management strategies that work best for you.

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