Eighty-eight percent of leaders report that work is a primary source of stress in their lives and that having a leadership role increases the level of stress.
Leaders find themselves carrying a tremendous amount of stress and responsibility. While it is normal for employers to place an important focus on the wellness of their employees, it is equally important for them to acknowledge and address the hidden toll that stress may have on their own productivity and health.
Demands take a toll on leaders
Leaders are under more pressure as a result of the increasing number of expectations placed on them, demanding schedules, and constant pressure to perform. The most frequent demands causing high-stress levels for leaders include decision-making, dispute resolution, relationship-building, and job responsibilities. Leadership tasks like developing people and managing limited resources contribute to stress. Leaders find that physical demands like travel, long work hours, and the workplace environment increase their stress levels.
The impact of cognitive load
Cognitive load in leaders can indeed lead to stress. Cognitive load refers to the mental effort and capacity required to process information, make decisions, and solve problems. Leaders often face complex and demanding situations that require a high level of cognitive load, such as making important strategic decisions, managing teams, and handling various responsibilities.
When leaders experience a consistently high cognitive load without adequate resources or coping mechanisms, it results in stress.
Tips to reduce cognitive load
Prioritise and delegate: Hire a virtual assistant that can attend to smaller tasks, freeing up existing employee capacity. Focus on high-impact tasks that align with your core responsibilities, and have team members handle tasks that can be delegated.
Simplify information: Request that your employees provide you with concise reports and clear communication to reduce the volume of information you need to process.
Time management: Efficiently manage your time using techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to categorise tasks as urgent, important, or neither. Set clear goals and prioritise your daily tasks to reduce the cognitive load caused by decision fatigue.
Embrace technology: Leverage technology and automation to streamline repetitive tasks and data analysis. Invest in project management and communication tools to enhance collaboration and organisation.
Continuous learning: Stay updated on industry trends and best practises to make informed decisions quickly. Encourage a culture of learning within your team to benefit from collective knowledge.
Mindfulness: Practise mindfulness techniques and stress management to keep your mind clear and focused.
Limit distractions: Develop effective filters for incoming information, such as email and phone messages. Limit multitasking, as it increases cognitive load and reduces productivity. Or hire someone to assist you with these tasks.
Delegate decision-making: Empower your team to make decisions within their areas of expertise. Trusting your team and allowing them to make certain decisions will lighten your cognitive load.
“Overloading attention shrinks mental control. Life immersed in digital distractions creates a near constant cognitive overload. And that overload wears out self-control.” - Daniel Coleman
The power of sleep, diet and exercise
Exercise, in almost any form, acts as a stress reliever. Being active boosts your feel-good endorphins and distracts you from your daily worries. Combining exercise with a healthy and balanced diet is an excellent way to manage stress.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet has been shown to reduce the risk of a myriad of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Diet affects mental health, reduces stress, and several studies suggest that certain diets may reduce the risk of developing depression and anxiety.
Sleep is a critical factor in managing stress, playing a pivotal role in maintaining both our physical and mental well-being. During deep sleep, our bodies repair and regenerate tissues, while our brains consolidate memories and process emotions. When we don't get enough quality sleep, our stress levels can skyrocket. Sleep deprivation impairs our ability to cope with stressors, making us more irritable, anxious, and less resilient.
You don’t have to do it all yourself
Leaders need to remember that they don't have to bear the entire burden alone; outsourcing tasks to skilled professionals can alleviate stress and open up new avenues for growth. In this way, leaders can not only enhance their own wellness but also empower their organisations to thrive.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
Hiring the right, skilled remote assistant can take a business to another level through the additional skills and resources they can provide. This solution is an attractive, affordable option for any business, especially for early start-ups that do not need a full-time in-office resource during stages of early growth and change.
We make it easy to hire a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a Virtual Assistant is easy at RecruitMyMom. We offer multiple skill sets such as administration, diary management, business development, marketing, data analysis, content creation, editing, finance, accounting, human resources, project management, and information technology.
In the relentless world of leadership, where stress is an ever-present companion, it is imperative that you recognise the importance of self-care and effective strategies to combat the burdens of their roles.