Chronic workplace stress and burnout are being referred to as an epidemic.

We’re a fast-paced society, job security is pretty much non-existent, we’re told to do more with less, we work harder, and resist taking time off since there’s so much to do. Chances are, you or a member of your team are experiencing stress related issues or job burn-out.

The Link Between Lower Stress & Leadership

Did you know that our work and leadership styles have a correlation with stress levels? Type A personalities (those that are ambitious, organized, take on more and more work, want to be understood, are proactive and competitive, and live to meet deadlines) are at a higher risk for feeling stressed? We work hard and we have high expectations, but frequently feel there is an out of balance condition between the effort we put forth, and the recognition we are given.

From another perspective, individuals that score high in leadership dimensions have lower stress levels. Why? Leadership was linked with high work effort and high work rewards. (Remember how we always say to track progress against your goals, celebrate your successes, and recognize accomplishments?  There’s a reason for that!)

Another link is that high leadership scores were associated with high job control. When you’re in control or feel that you’re in control, you experience less stress. Make sense? Since leadership increases job control, giving employees a stronger say in work decisions helps reduce their job stress. Why not give it try?

5 R’s of Destressing

Richard Blonna, Ed.D, author of Stress Less, Live More, provides the following tips for de-stressing:

  1. Reorganize
    “Reorganize your health” and “develop hearty habits” – a healthy lifestyle provides energy and builds coping resilience.
  2. Rethink
    Be aware of your mental and emotional baggage; you can prevent a potential stressor from becoming an actual stressor. Manage self-doubt and negative thoughts; take control!
  3. Reduce
    Are you involved in too many things? Use a journal to track your activities and your feelings about them, and verify they mesh with your goals and values.
  4. Relax
    Strive for a calm mind. Deep breathing or systematic muscle relaxation, for about 20 minutes a day helps tremendously. Other ideas include listening to music, reading, exercising, spending time with family/friends, and napping.
  5. Release
    Reduce muscle tension and use pent up energy. You need to decide the level of physical activity you need (mild, moderate and vigorous), and select activities you enjoy.

There is no band-aid or one single approach for managing all stressors; what we can do, however, is to understand when stress is setting in. We need to proactively identify which techniques work best for us in specific situations, and remember that true leaders link high work effort with high work rewards!