C-suite leaders need effective techniques to manage stress and deliver optimal performance

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The lives of C-suite executives have several challenges and pressures. From managing teams and making critical decisions to facilitating seamless communication with clarity across various teams and departments and driving the overall success of the organisation, a lot needs to be planned and handled well. Since these top-rung leaders have to meet the constant expectations and demands placed on them, they need to equip themselves with effective stress management techniques.

If they fail to manage high levels of stress, which is an integral part of their professional lives, they could face severe adverse consequences. From health ailments and loss of productivity to disengagement, loss of concentration, deterioration of working relationships, depression, and burnout, the consequences may be varied. To perform at their best while maintaining their well-being, C-suite executives need to manage stress, which is often triggered by the responsibilities and demands of their positions.

If you are a C-suite executive, you already know that stress is a natural and necessary element of your life. To a certain extent, you may even welcome stress and feel that it drives you to excel in your position. However, if you believe the stress levels in your life have become excessive and chronic, it’s time to learn and practice stress management techniques.

We bring you some effective ones here to help you cope with stress.

Focus on Mind-Body Practices

Practicing mindfulness and meditation and doing regular exercises are ways to reclaim your inner calm. Whether you are looking for quick stress management techniques at work or personal stress management techniques to try at home, at your own pace, these can help.

1.      Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness refers to nonjudgmental and intentional present-moment awareness. This involves focusing on the present moment, recognising the temporary or unpleasant feelings, thoughts, or sensations, and accepting them without any judgement.

From focusing on your breath with mindful breathing to doing a body scan or engaging in mindful movement and mindful eating, there are various simple mindfulness exercises that you can practice at work or at home. You can also try deep breathing exercises and meditation in addition to practicing self-compassion, compassion for others, and gratitude.

2.      Engage in Yoga

With a balanced blend of breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation, yoga uses a holistic approach to help you manage stress.

Breathing exercises involve deliberate inhalations and exhalations at a specific speed and intensity, while physical postures focus on encouraging flexibility, reducing discomfort, and offering relief from stress. Meditation helps you to consciously calm the mind by focusing on your breathing and disentangling thoughts from each other.

3.      Do Regular Exercises

To manage your busy schedule without getting too stressed, you must stay fit – mentally and physically. Regular exercises are essential to stay fit.

Whether you take a brisk 20-minute walk, do Pilates, engage in HIIT, or any other form of physical exercise, it will stimulate the production of endorphins and reduce stress hormones to help foster relaxation. Make sure to exercise both physically and mentally because handling your C-suite duties need you to be physically fit and excel in mental manoeuvres.

Prioritise, Delegate and Manage Time Efficiently

For people at the top rungs of the management, stress happens when they fail to take necessary actions. But trying to handle everything on your own isn’t just possible and things are bound to fall through the cracks unless you learn to prioritise things and delegate work.

Efficient time management (say, via time blocks) is equally crucial to ensure you utilise your work hours judiciously on prioritised tasks, limit distractions, set boundaries, and improve focus while carving out time for breaks, relaxation, exercises, and hobbies.

Take Breaks and Focus on Transitions

For excellent mental endurance and focus, you should take a 15-30 minute break for every 90 minutes of uninterrupted work. These breaks are crucial as they help you recover as you go through the day.

You can build small periods of recovery into your workday, like taking 10 deep breaths, fetching a glass of water, or standing for 60 seconds for every hour of seated work.

Managing your transitions is another effective stress management and relaxation technique. Whether you need to manage the transition from work to home or from one meeting to another, give yourself 10 minutes to cool down from a stressful experience or moment. Ensuring you are in the present and now and don’t carry stress with you for longer than is beneficial is vital for effective stress management and overall well-being.

Integrate Healthy Habits into Your Daily Routine

Prioritising self-care and integrating healthy habits into your daily routine are essential techniques to manage stress. Whether you are a CEO, CFO, COO, or CTO, here’s how you can do it.

1.      Nutrition

You need to prioritise a diet abundant in fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and beneficial fats. Don’t forget to select nutrient-dense foods that support heart health, such as fish and nuts high in omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, and berries.

It will be wise to stop smoking and limit your intake of alcohol, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

2.      Sleep Hygiene

Prioritising quality sleep is crucial to ensure optimal performance in the fast-paced world of top executives. You should remember that inadequate sleep can raise blood pressure, disrupt cardiovascular function, and increase inflammation, which makes prioritising adequate and restorative sleep crucial.

It will help to have a sleep routine (like not consuming caffeine after 6 pm, staying away from blue light-emitting devices, taking a warm bath before sleep, and not smoking before going to bed) to help your body get into the relaxed zone.

3.      Connecting with Nature

Studies have shown that spending time to appreciate nature and its wonders can reduce stress levels. If you haven’t focused on benefiting from the restorative power of nature, it’s time you do it and experience its profound impact on your physical and mental well-being.

You can do exercises on the beach or in your neighbourhood park, take strolls in the woods or nearby park, enjoy a hike during the weekend, organise a picnic amidst natural settings (your backyard or a nearby hillock), or simply take breaks in natural surroundings. The key is to incorporate nature exposure into your routines, which can do wonders to reduce your stress levels.

Final Words

The higher up you are positioned in an organisational hierarchy, the more stress you will experience in your role. People in an organisation and even the shareholders and business partners rely on C-suite leaders to make suitable decisions and steer the business in times of challenge.

No wonder why these top-level executives are most likely to be pretty stressed. However, with the healthy stress management techniques discussed above, handling stress can no longer feel like an overwhelming task.

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