handling stress as a leader

Handling stress as a leader – Train for it

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Everyone who worked close to a leadership role, knows that as a leader, you work under really stressful situations. It can affect your life, your professional and personal life and even most importantly, your health. However, you don’t have to panick, because handling stress can be trained and developed.

Leaders work in challenging circumstances. Staying focused under pressure, dealing with complex and conflicting priorities, and pivoting when business needs require it. All these, while having a life outside work. It is hard for every leader, but even harder when you are the company owner and on top of that you have to worry about paying payroll and your providers. Right?

The good news is that there are plenty of ways of doing it and you and your team can learn how to deal with stress in a better way. Gurus of the world have been speaking about many different ways of handling stress. On this article, we want to list all those ways that psychologists and experts in the matter have offered for decades, but also some new and creative ways of dealing with it. Obviously, you don’t have to find your perfect way in just one session, but try those that are feasible for you and discover what is good for you.

Step 1 to better handling stress. Identify the problem

They say that the first step is always to recognise that you have a problem. Stress can be caused for many reasons. We are not psychologist, so we will not be able to help you with that. However, experts at the Helpguide.org recommend that if you haven’t found the source of your stress you do a journal.

Sometimes is a peak at work, financial problems at the company, or at home. The cause could also be a personal problem, but it might be your way of looking at things.

Step 2: Try some of these techniques to reduce stress on your own.

Sport to release the stress:

It is well known that being active helps with stress and liberates endorphins, which are the chemical way that our body has to deal with stress and pain. If you are active on regular basis, it will really help you to start feeling more relaxed when you face the day to day.


We are all chemicals, and even if you don’t realise, speaking face to face with another human being could also liberate hormones that will make you feel better. If you are extremely busy and didn’t have time to socialise in some time, make the effort to spend 30 minutes talking to someone. Even if is another parent at your kid’s school… it will help with some hormones.

Learn how to relax:

Yes, it sounds easy. Unfortunately is not as easy as it sounds. As human beings, we are always alert in case we have to face any danger. Luckily, there are some techniques that you can learn and developed and they really help to focuss your mind, realise of the “real” importance of your problems. These relaxation techniques will help you developing skills to deal with your problems in a more constructive way leaving stress out (as much as possible)

Try your local yoga or mindfulness studio. If you don’t have a convenient one, or the time schedule is not good for you, there are many apps that you can install in your mobile phone and use even before you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning. Try the dogdown app for yoga. It is the best one we have seen so far.

Sleep your 8 hours:

Or as much as possible. Sometimes we have a busy life and every hour counts, but when chosing to sleep or wake up early to review your emails, think about productivity and how you will be much more productive if you are rested.

Review your diet:

We are machines, and the type of food you eat it will help, or not, with the final result. Make sure you have a healthy diet that will help your body to do its best.

Step 3: If the previous actions were not enough, do some external training to handle stress better

The learning industry constantly works on making these situations something that you can prepare for. MBAs work on case scenarios and the best possible outcomes. However, few courses or training work around the stress itself.

There are many courses in platforms like coursera or udemy where you can have a look to long and short courses and it can give you the flexibility to improve your stress management skills. If you are looking for something different, you can always have a look to courses that are a little bit different.

Stress handling “real experience” training

Have you seen the movie sully? Where Tom Hanks plays the pilot who landed a plain on the river Hudson. It is a perfect example of how situations could really change when you train for them, and how facing an stressful situation will be better solved if you have faced a similar situation before.

With this in mind, the game, Earth-to-Mars, uses Virtual Reality to simulate such pressures in a learning experience co-developed by eLearning Studios and Headspring. Earth-to-Mars is the first of its kind in the executive learning space, allowing leaders to test themselves in formidable situations. Gameplay is estimated to take 30-45 minutes.

Together, players navigate a number of incidents requiring them to lead, collaborate and negotiate. As with life, things are not always straightforward; and they must cope with problems, twists and surprises along the way,”

Nitin Thakrar, CEO of eLearning Studios

Headspring’s Learning Architect, Ian Shakeshaft says, “Serious games take on different meanings when used across different groups. That’s why Earth-to-Mars is designed to be flexible. Learning doesn’t depend on ‘winning’ the game, rather in how the players deal with challenges. We don’t learn from experiences per-se, but from reflecting on those experiences.”

Depending on how the facilitator wants to use it, game’s learning outcomes include perseverance, keeping focused under pressure, evidence-based decision-making, negotiating in the moment, and dealing with the unknown

Together, these elements demonstrate the difference between routine expertise and adaptive expertise. I also like that all the pedagogy was included!”

There are many ways to learn how to do improve the way you handle stress. Start with being aware of what the problem is and then find the perfect solution for you!

Let us know what worked for you, so we can also include it here for others to learn from your experience.

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