3 Ways to Prevent Stress from Taking Over Your Life

Your best chance of succeeding in the fight against stress is to aim for prevention. Use these three methods to prevent stress on the individual and organizational level.
3 Ways to Prevent Stress from Taking Over Your Life
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The following excerpt is from Dr. Nadine Greiner’s book Stress-Less Leadership. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

Too many people wait until stress has progressed too far before taking action. But unlike other afflictions, like alcohol abuse or cancer, that only affect certain individuals, stress affects all of us -- stress is not an “if” but a “when.” So, it makes sense to take preventive measures against stress.

Following are a number of methods you can use to prevent stress on the individual and organizational level. You should select the ones that feel right to you.

Time management

As an executive, you know there are never enough hours in the day. From streams of emails to floods of meeting requests, your time is under constant attack. Time management becomes more difficult as workloads increase, but it’s crucial to effective leadership and stress prevention.

The first step toward understanding how effective you are at time management is to do a time audit assessing how much time you spend on the activities that consume your day. Then, to-do lists, calendar apps, and time-tracking software can all help you remain on task and better understand how effectively you are dividing your time.

Related: Why Forgiveness Plays a Huge Role in Stress Reduction

Delegating

Managers frequently struggle with delegating. Do you enjoy delegating, or does it give you anxiety? Effective delegating doesn’t just prevent stress and burnout among leaders, but it also enhances team capacity. When leaders delegate work thoughtfully, they empower their team members to take on new responsibilities and expand their skill sets. Effective delegation involves five key steps:

1. Evaluate. Leaders must first determine whether a task should be delegated. If it’s critical for long-term success and mission-critical to the company, they may not want to delegate it. Leaders must also evaluate whether they have enough time to effectively delegate the job. Delegating shouldn’t be a rapid-fire handoff. They’ll need to spend time training, checking on progress, and engaging in constant communica­tion.

2. Prepare. Leaders must map out exactly what’s required. They should include clear and comprehensive information about timing, budget, milestones, communication frequency, and resources.

3. Assign. Leaders must determine which team members have the required skill set or expertise to complete the task. Ideally, it should help employees grow and expand their capabilities.

4. Confirm understanding and commitment. Leaders often make false assumptions about whether employees under­stand what’s being asked of them. They should confirm understanding by asking their employees to summarize the request and what’s required. Managers must also get explicit commitment from their employees, who must commit to the expected results, milestones, resource requirements, and pro­posed budget.

5. Avoid micromanaging. Once leaders hand off the baton, it’s critical to avoid micromanaging. If an employee hits a roadblock, leaders should treat this as a learning opportu­nity and not take the reins. Effective coaching will help employees understand where they’ve gone wrong and help empower them to succeed in the future.

If you struggle with delegation, consider blocking off time each day to create a plan of action. With careful planning, you and your team can succeed. Once you start delegating effectively, your team will dare to come forward more often and more vigorously.

Related: Feeling Stressed? You Can Still Motivate Your Employees to Do Their Best Work

Avoiding overcommitment

Do you find yourself biting off more than you can chew? Overcommitment is common among executives and leaders as they agree to take on tasks without considering whether they have enough bandwidth. But as requests and tasks pile up on each other and deadlines draw near, leaders can become overwhelmed and stressed.

Overcommitment can be crippling and lead to a kind of paralysis. The most effective antidote against overcommitment is to be firm and set boundaries. You must be vigilant about protecting your time and learn how to say “no.”

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