4 Tips for Managing Stress as a Leader

Higher Ed Leadership Series

In honor of Stress Awareness Week, I wanted to share a few tips for managing stress as a leader. Let’s face it – you wear many hats and you have a lot on your plate. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed for a life of constantly feeling overwhelmed and burned out. In fact, the ability to manage stress and avoid burnout will make you more effective as a leader.

So, here are my top 4 tips for managing stress as a leader:

(Prefer to watch instead of read? I recently recorded a 15-minute chat on this topic. Watch it here!)

1) Check in with yourself

The first step is identifying if you have stress, and where it’s coming from. Do a body scan – where are you holding any tension? Have you been getting a lot of headaches recently, or finding it hard to sleep? Are your fingernails practically gnawed off? Trust me, our bodies will show us where we’re holding onto stress.

You know yourself best, and I’m willing to bet you know the signs to look for that indicate you’re feeling stressed. But if you’re having trouble seeing them – ask someone close to you! They may be able to see some of the signs that you can’t.

2) Prioritize…prioritize…prioritize

Sometimes when your plate is too full, you simply can’t get everything done (or at least you can’t get it all done today). Every morning, write down your top 3-5 tasks that you need to get done that day. There may be more things you want to get done, but in reality, they can wait until tomorrow or next week.

So, find your 3-5 “must-do’s” and focus your day around those tasks. Once they’re done, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and relief, rather than feeling overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list.

3) Delegate!

Reminder: Not everything needs to be done by you! Particularly as women of color, we are notorious for thinking we can do everything. We may even enjoy the martyrdom of being “every woman.” It’s time to ditch the idea that this is a badge of honor, and find joy in asking for HELP!

My best tip for delegating: find someone in your department who you’re looking to grow and develop, and give them a chance to do so! This is a great opportunity to coach someone on your team and help them develop themselves in their career. Not only that, but it also models this behavior to them, so those on your team feel safe to ask for help when they need it.

P.S. Delegating isn’t limited to the workplace. If there are things in your personal life that you can delegate to help relieve some of your mental load – do it!

4) Take time for yourself

Before you say “I don’t have time for that” and exit this page, hear me out. Maybe you don’t have the time right now to take a whole day off, but you CAN block five minutes on your calendar for yourself.

Put on your favorite radio station, meditation, or sound bath (here’s a link to one of my favorites) and take some time to dance it out or just pause and breathe. If you have the time, make it 20 minutes, or an hour – or better yet, take a whole day off for yourself!

But even if it’s just five minutes in your morning to center yourself, it will make a huge difference when it comes to managing your stress levels.

Loving these leadership tips? Share this post with someone who might find it helpful!

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