Everyone deals with stress, but managers tend to deal with an exceptional amount. Whether you’re managing employees, a property, a financial portfolio, or just your daily bills and chores, the process of management demands focus, accountability, and adaptation to factors beyond your control. All contribute to increased stress.
The dangers of excessive stress are well-documented, ranging from mental symptoms such as increased anxiety and depression to physical ones such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s impossible to eliminate stress entirely, but with the proper techniques and attention, you can manage your stress and prevent it from taking over your life. Try adopting these seven tactics to relieve and mitigate stress in your managerial role:
- Identify your stress triggers. According to Mayo Clinic, one of the first steps to successful stress management is identifying the triggers that introduce the most stress into your life. Pay attention to the fluctuations of your stress level throughout the day. Are there moments when you feel more irritable, less patient, more excited, more anxious, or more tense? If so, take note, and see if you can figure out the root cause for those feelings. If you notice that certain people or certain situations stress you out more than others, work to avoid those situations, or experiment with new ways of dealing with them.
- Find activities that counteract stress. When confronted with a stressful situation, rely on specific activities that help you relieve stress. There’s no right or wrong way to relieve stress, though some activities have more evidence behind them as effective stress management tools. For example, mindfulness meditation is useful to clear your head and help you feel more relaxed. Physical exercise, listening to music, and deep breathing also are common choices.
- Overcome your desire for perfection. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure things go right. When you continually strive for excellence, it’s easy to strive for perfection, but striving for perfection can be a bad thing.
Perfectionism leads to an “all or nothing” mentality that makes anything less than 100 percent complete and error-free unacceptable. Nothing is perfect. Refocus your priorities by establishing more reasonable expectations for yourself and your team.
- Talk to people. Burying your stress is a bad idea. If you try to ignore the problem, it’s only going to become more severe. Instead, reach out to the people who care about you, and talk to them about your stress. Find friends, family members, or coworkers, and describe your stress levels, including your major sources of stress.
You may find that just talking about your stress makes you feel better, and makes incoming stress feel more manageable. If that’s not the case, your loved one may be able to make recommendations about how to deal with your stress in a healthier way, or offer support in other ways. Either way, it’s better than merely internalizing your sentiments.
- Lead a healthier lifestyle. This bit of advice is helpful for anyone, not just managers. According to the American Psychological Association, one of the best things you can do to manage stress is to lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes, but is not limited to, getting enough quality sleep every night, eating appropriately portioned, healthy meals throughout the day, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough physical exercise. Cumulatively, these activities will increase your overall health, improve your mood, and make you more resistant to certain forms of stress. It takes time to incorporate these habits into your life, but is well worth the effort.
- Be less of a manager. According to Peter Gloor of the Ivey Business Journal, all those typical managerial duties aren’t just unhelpful in many cases, they’re unnecessary. Think of all your strictly managerial responsibilities. You might have adopted a hands-on or hands-off approach, but you still likely consider it your job to interfere with various processes to make sure your work is executed in the best possible way.
No one formula can handle every problem. The best managers aren’t the ones who actively manage individual workers, tasks, and items. Instead, they’re the ones who engage with and collaborate with their associates, and flexibly adapt to new situations. Think of yourself as a creative collaborator rather than a manager, and you’ll stop stressing yourself out as much about the little things.
- Seek outside help to manage your workload. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you need help. Our work culture demands that we take on as much work as possible, but taking on too much can be destructive in more than one way. For example, if you’re an independent property manager, consider enlisting the help of a property management team. If you’ve got a team of employees working under you, consider delegating some of your less important tasks to one of your least busy team members. You don’t have to do everything by yourself, so stop trying to!
Stressed manager photo available from Shutterstock