Being a CEO can be stressful. As the head decision-maker, overall operations manager, and chief strategist, the task-list is never-ending. So, it’s understandable that people with so much on their plate may have a difficult time de-stressing, especially people whose mind is always on their work. Stress can wear on a person physically and mentally. So for a CEO to be at their best, it’s necessary to keep stress in check. Some CEOs may feel too busy to work on stress-relieving techniques, but there are several things they can do that require very little effort or time.
Visualize Your Power Animal. Or Happy Place. Or Both!
Remember the scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton’s character visited his visualized cave to find his power animal? Visualization is a very effective way to mentally remove yourself from your surroundings, and that short mental vacation can do wonders for stress. Whether you’re visualizing your power animal or your favorite place to relax, simply closing your eyes and creating a mental image of that thing for a couple minutes can make your body and mind more at ease.
Take Deep, Purposeful Breaths
We don’t often think of our breathing since it’s automatic, but paying attention to our breaths can naturally make us feel more relaxed. Deep breathing supplies your brain with more oxygen, which also produces a feeling of overall calmness. Taking a moment to take a few mindful, deep breaths can bring about a quick reduction in stress. For added benefit, add in some visualization. The use of deep breathing in stress relief is so significant that the American Institute of stress has said it’s the most effective stress reduction technique.
Laugh That Stress Off
Laughter really can be the best medicine, especially for stress. Laughter can relax the whole body, and it’s tension and stress relief can affect your muscles for up to 45 minutes afterward. Laughter also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormone. When feeling stressed, take a couple minutes to laugh. Bookmark a couple funny (work appropriate) sites, or keep funny photos in a folder on your desktop so you can quickly refer to these when you’re starting to feel that tension weigh on you.
Forced Worrying Chases Those Involuntary Worries Away
This might sound counter-intuitive, but it can be very effective: Stress can cause us to worry — worry about deadlines, or revenue… or a million other things. If stress is making you worry and you find it hard to focus, set a timer for 60 seconds and force yourself to worry. Often, trying to make yourself worry is difficult! Worries often affect us most when we’re trying to push them under the rug. After your time is up, you may find it’s easier to focus, and that worry isn’t trying to steal your attention as much.
Put a Smile on That Face
It may sound corny, but smiling can have a physiological impact on stress. While the link between facial expressions and mental states hasn’t been researched much, one study showed people who smiled during a stressful situation had lower heart rates and lower self-reported levels of stress. Some researchers have suggested smiling may reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in the body. Not only can smiling have an impact on your stress levels, but it can make people around you feel more at ease as well.