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Leadership with less stress – is that possible?

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

By: Annika Sörensen


Do you as a business leader often feel tired and worn out? You feel you have too much on your plate but you have no idea what to do about it because everything just happens so fast. There is no time for reflection. You don’t want to reveal your bad situation so you say you are stressed and have so much to do, in a tone and way to make it sound like you are a hero. As if the person with most on their to-do –list wins. But on the inside you feel sad and you know you are letting yourself down.

If this is you – and I know this is a very common problem among busy business leaders – this article is for you. I bet all you want is to have control, be a good boss, do some good work and be profitable for yourself and the company. And that is possible, it is even easy if you know how.

The solution is to get “back to basics”. Back to biology, back to what we are made for. Using biology to our advantage. May sound boring, it is definitely not flashy but very effective.

Here is the main clue – this all starts with you, you as a person. This has very little to do with what is on your to-do-list. It has to do about how you act or react to your to-do-list and all other stressors coming your way. At the bottom line it is about your mindset.

Finding a good way to deal with this has many positive effects. It can first of all improve your own work-life balance. And it can also help at the workplace by resolving conflicts, improve communication skills, deal with difficult relationships and improve productivity to name some of the benefits. And who doesn’t want all this?

So, what to do?

First of all – what is stress – really? It is an automatic biological reaction in your body and mind when you meet a challenge. And the challenge is everything from the alarm ringing to get you out of bed in the morning to an unexpected event in your work to serious matters like dealing with death – it all uses the same system.

First thing to learn is to deal with that actual acute moment of stress. And you do that by staying calm, take deep breaths, take a step back, and try to distract yourself if possible. All for your brain to get a few seconds of rest, to think clear, prepare for the challenge and react in a more unrushed way. You can do this by taking that deep breath, by jumping up and down by your desk, or walk along the corridor or smile towards your colleagues, by doing a mini-meditation, using affirmations or just about doing whatever for a short moment while your brain is resting from the problem and you can take control of the reaction. For this time.

Next step after getting control back of that stressful moment is to analyze what happened and find clarity if this was a one-time happening or if this keeps coming often. Also clarity on how serious it was, do I need to take measurements for it not to happen again, will this take long to pass through or is it just this temporary moment.  

From there you have the choice of how to handle and react. There is a saying “You are only one thought away from calm” and that is basically true. You decide what thoughts you have. You can actively change an existing thought. It takes willpower and the choice is yours. You can choose to react with anger or with calm. You can also apply choice to chronic stressors such as poor working environment or complicated work relations. You have a choice to change your work environment or maybe even leave it if you can't see an end to the misery. You also have a choice to move away from an unhealthy relationship or do other changes in your life that will benefit you.

Do you see the pattern in this all? If you work with staying Calm in the moment, finding Clarity in your reactions and using your ability to choose how to react, you will over time have created new habits and this leads to real change in your life. At the same time these new responses get hard wired to your brain and you will end up being that calm cool leader you always dreamed about. 

This will not only benefit you but also your work staff. They will recognize you new way of dealing with the stressors at work and if you do this gently they will model you and the group will be empowered and more effective and have more fun and that most often ends up in better results in the business you are set to do. A win-win for everyone.

To your success and keep smiling! Annika Sörensen, MD, Author, TEDx Speaker, Mentor, Seminars/Workshops, Strategic Sessions and more. Helping stressed out Business Leaders feel less stress, get more done and create bigger success! Dr Annika is specialized in family medicine and health promotion strategies. She has practiced in the Public Health System in Sweden for 30+ years, and she has seen stress and illness from all sides, both from her patients but also privately.  Today she has changed her daily mission from treating disease, to prevention and promoting health by working with stress management, health, wealth and a happy leadership and work life.

Today she runs her own company, AskDrAnnika.com. Dr Annika has also published the top-rated stress management book, “Take Stress from Chaos to Calm” and its follow up companion “My De-Stress Diary.”