Let’s face it. It’s been a tough run and we’re all showing signs of wear. “Nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives” which has been compounded by the stressors we were already coping with, according to a 2020 APA study.
Managing stress has been crucial to handling the chaos the last year has thrust upon us and will be no less important as 2021 unfolds with its own twists and turns. As the CEO of EvolveMKD, I know how valuable it is to support stress reduction techniques for myself and my team of employees. In recognition of National Stress Awareness Day this April 23rd, here are my tips to create a supportive workplace that puts people first so both leaders and employees can effectively manage stress.
Employees who feel supported are happy productive workers who have the headspace to pick up the slack when someone else needs them. We can’t focus on what’s in front of us if we’re stressed about our family while at work, or about our work while at home–and in the last year separating the two has been in itself a challenge. I make sure my staff knows we’re a team and that means workloads won’t always be equal. We proactively strive to balance out each other’s needs with our team’s supportive and built-in flexibility so that everyone can do their jobs well and still tend to themselves and their loved ones.
Life Happens. Be Present
No matter what the level of intensity is in your business at the moment, life is still happening. Whether it’s marriage, a baby, or unfortunately, tragedy–all of those things will happen to people in your business. It’s so important to give those moments in life the attention they deserve. Ensure that everyone (including yourself) understands they have the opportunity to celebrate or mourn those moments fully, and work will not collapse without them.
Come From a Place of Abundance
It’s easy to lose perspective and only see the things you need to improve in your company, your team, or yourself. I think being self-critical is inherent in every business owner’s DNA, but try flipping your lens and view things from a place of abundance. There’s truly always something to be grateful for or something to appreciate. Watch as your employees follow your lead and approach their work with a positive attitude which will, in turn, spread to the customers that they engage with.
Celebrate Success Even Within Chaos
In the midst of a crisis or even a failure, there is always a win. We’d ironically been on the verge of launching a pilot work-from-home program when the pandemic hit and suddenly our test program became our everyday reality. Like so many office workers forced onto the homefront, we had to navigate stressful and isolating connectivity and productivity challenges. Yet, we not only stayed afloat, we eventually learned to thrive amidst the chaos of it all. It’s important to acknowledge that success in the face of adversity can sometimes just be getting through the crisis rather than coming out on top. That acknowledgment alone can shift the mood from anxious to heroic and put everyone at ease. Pulling together as a team through dynamic circumstances is often the greatest win worth celebrating!
Pick Your Priorities
Running a business has changed my life and taught me that you really have to prioritize your time and energy and delegate what you can. My job as a CEO is not only to ensure the business is successful and running smoothly but to keep the morale of my team members high. I also have to be available for our clients who are experiencing the same anxiety and stressors that we all are. Though I’m in charge of a company, prioritizing is key at any level to reduce stress. We all need to exercise, get enough sleep, laugh with the people we love, and sometimes, just do nothing. Pick what matters and don’t be afraid to let some things slide.
Keys to Scheduling Wisely
Don’t Overpack Your Calendar. A schedule is designed to keep things on track but overpacking it creates a stressful environment where you are racing from one thing to the next without giving anything the attention it deserves. Between getting the work done for clients, giving time to my staff, industry networking, and travel, I have to consciously make time for the things that really rejuvenate and energize me without choosing so much that I’m overwhelmed.
Do Choose Your Workout. A calm, clear leader is critical to providing the oversight and support employees and clients need. I’ve heard that not exercising for a business owner is basically the same as choosing stress and depression. I treat my workouts like any other appointment by adding them to my calendar a month in advance so they remain a priority as my schedule fills in around them. It’s not a perfect system since client emergencies happen, but giving exercise its own block means I do it at least 80% of the time.
Balance Social/Alone Time: While the pandemic has been isolating, it’s also forced many people into small spaces where they can’t get solo time to reflect and reset. Take breaks where you can get away and do whatever it is that allows you to take care of yourself and find the mind space to return and be present.
Leading by example, I model a healthy work-life presence and encourage my employees to do the same. At EvolveMKD we run a people-first business that values our community and our employees and their mental and physical well-being over profit.