Executive Presence – the sound and feel you generate among your family, team, and organization. Executive presence, I’ll define, lies on the opposing end of executive stress. First, I invite you to become aware that focusing on stress perpetuates a stressful experience, and you subsequently exude a stress-filled presence. Learning and practicing the ability to generate and exude a calm and serene presence is what I’ll define as executive presence.
Meditation and running are my two favorite processes to calm stress and activate calm, gentle, peaceful tones. Check out these free resources on reducing stress and anxiety and improving calm. The most influential executives or leaders in my life were respectful and gracious. Although they did not introduce me to running or meditation, their emotional tone inspired me in this direction.
According to an Integra Survey, 62 percent end the day with work-related neck pain. To make matters worse, more than half said they often spend 12-hour days on work-related duties, and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands.
According to a survey of 800,000 workers in over 300 companies, the number of employees calling in sick because of stress tripled from 1996 to 2000.
Stress is a killer, and executives – who work harder, longer, and have more responsibility than others – are most at risk of succumbing to stress-related disorders.
The effects of executive stress
While workplace-related stress has skyrocketed in recent years, none have been as affected as those in the driving seat of business. CEOs, for example, spend an average of 62.5 hours at work per week, which doesn’t include putting out fires, responding to urgent emails, or handling requests outside of office hours.
As a consequence of such demand, the stress you feel as an executive will age you. Here are some other side effects of feeling constantly stressed at work:
- Low energy, demotivation, and a lack of inspiration to develop new ideas.
- Frequent colds, illnesses, and infections.
- A loss of libido or desire for human connection.
- Insomnia, chest pains, and aches and pains.
Or course, one side effect of executive stress is the use of substances to maintain a high workload or the effect on mental health. Many executives experience severe anxiety and depression related to workplace burnout, which can also affect life at home. Not only that, but many executives turn to substance abuse to cope with such demanding work schedules.
In fact, in 2017, the New York Times reported on the story of a high-level executive who overdosed on substances after a long battle with substance abuse. The victim, Peter, was using it to cope with the stress of his job, and because he was in a leadership position, he failed to communicate his addiction and suffered in silence.
Here’s what to do about it
Work isn’t as important as your health, and you can do many things to ease the side effects of executive stress. Here are a few options:
Commit to a healthy lifestyle
Switching it off is as important as knowing when to turn it on. Work shouldn’t be 24/7, regardless of whether you own a business or sit in a leadership position. Know when to turn off your emails and tune in to time with your family. Set firm boundaries with colleagues and ensure they respect them so that work doesn’t spill over into personal time. Finally, exercise regularly, eat well and get your eight hours. Set your alarm for 7 am and go to bed at 11 pm. Don’t be a hero.
Remain aware of your stress triggers
Remaining mindful of what triggers your stress at work is vital to know when to step back and take a break. If you haven’t moved your body in many hours, be sure to do so. If you’re feeling sad and unproductive, don’t try to slog through. Go outside and get some fresh air.
Knowing when you’re feeling a heightened stress level means you can work to keep your stress levels in check, proactively working to reduce your heart rate (and save your life) simultaneously.
Turn to support
Friends, family members, and colleagues you can trust are all excellent places to turn to. Alcohol, cocaine, and gambling are not. Talk about how you’re feeling and recognize how people react to your current moods. Feeling snappy and irritable because of work? That’s not a positive sign, and there is no excuse. Recognize this and open up with your friends and family, don’t ‘react badly’ to their concerns.
Professional help for executive stress
If, after some time, the above approach to workplace stress reduction doesn’t affect you, it might be time to look for further intervention to help you regain control over every aspect of your life.
Leadership Coaching is here to help executives like you build a strong set of tools to help you manage your stress better for years to come. There is no avoiding the feeling of stress. In many aspects, it’s a positive thing that keeps us on our toes and working hard.
But when that feeling boils over, and your health begins to deteriorate, it’s time to do something about it. As executives, taking extended time away from the office can be tough to seek help for your stress. That’s why we’ve created Executive Stress Coaching. In just over an hour every other week or so, we can help you regain control and generate tips and skills you need to manage your stress.
Consider thinking about being a father as a metaphor. This is one way to expand and “bring your best” to other parts of your life. Anton Counseling & Health Psychology. Find your Psychologist of choice.