Saturday, July 20, 2024

Using Exercise To Combat Stress In Leadership

In this article, we will discuss using exercise to combat stress in leadership. Few will argue that pressure in leadership is unusual, thanks to the increased decision-making, difficult personnel challenges, and sometimes unachievable KPIs – issues that most leaders are up against. Being a leader is generally more stressful, so why and how is this a problem?

The added pressures amplify stress for leaders. The problem is that leaders are often a minority group, and the business or department performance sits with them. Many report directly to the boss. 

If you are a business owner, the most important thing to do is to identify patterns of stress in yourself and the workforce and then find solutions to remedy the causes or improve situations. Upfront effort can save the pains of recruitment and skills shortages and save you money.

Why is stress in leadership so negative?

Some personality types deal well with stress, while most do not. Stress in a leadership position is harmful because it typically affects the leaders but proliferates through managers and teams. Stress can be far-reaching, and it results in team fracturing, inefficiency, absence, reduced standard of work, and atypical behaviours. Stress can cause genuine illness and long-term chronic conditions. The nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk. in conjunction with the University of Southampton, have identified that stress and lack of sleep deficit are linked and state. 

Problems with sleep are often caused by the following:

  • Life events: You may feel distracted, stressed or worried about something going on in your life while you’re trying to go to sleep, which can affect your ability to relax.
  • Thinking cycle: Anxious thoughts about not getting enough sleep can cause distress, which can prevent you from relaxing and falling asleep.
  • Lifestyle: Developing poor habits around sleep, such as not having a regular routine.

How can you identify stress in your leadership team? 

Stress in a team can surface in many guises, but HR professionals commonly advise that it can often be seen in one of six negative scenarios – We have listed these below with explanations to help.

One, Unusual Quietness 

Stress can appear slowly in some and more quickly in others, so measuring what is typical for your teams and leaders is essential. Unusual quietness, employees becoming withdrawn, or having a lack of enthusiasm compared to their usual levels of engagement are often a sign of stress.    

Two, Missed Deadlines 

Stress can mix up some leaving them bewildered and not feeling themselves. When under pressure, the mind becomes a mix or blur of information and time management can go out of the window. Missed deadlines are usually the start of someone being overworked or mismanaging their time. Either way, they are stressed, so at this point, supporting them with intervention is suggested before their stress impacts others.  

Three, Lateness or Absence 

Unusual lateness or absence can indicate someone not wanting to be at work or not being able to face it. Absence is extreme and normally shows that a business does not have the correct support structures in place to support staff. If is a leader not turning up, then crucial decisions may be delayed. This can impact others with their workloads slipping and project deadlines being missed. 

Four, Unprovoked Aggression

In a fight or flight scenario, aggression leakage can be seen in individuals that are struggling. If your manager is unusually aggressive or snaps at you in a normal situation and you are caught off-guard, then it is likely their bad day is the result of stress-leakage, unprovoked and uncontrolled emotion leaving them. We will explain how that can be used later in this article.

Five, Atypical Behaviour

This describes unusual behaviour which is out of sorts for the individual. Cognitive and perceptual abnormalities, abnormal sleep patterns and general detrimental behaviours which will directly impact others around that individual – Emotional and functional traits are perhaps more expected in autism.   

How does exercise help relieve stress? 

We’ve established the main reasons that stress should be avoided and what to look for in your leaders. So how does exercise help relieve stress – Well, it improves your mood releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones. This can reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn will help you sleep better. Better sleep means increased focus, concentration and more energy – Together, this provides a real sense of well-being. Productivity increases and staff are retained, the business protects its people assets.   

Recommended exercises for stress relief 

Running – ‘Runners high’ is a condition that comes from prolonged high-intensity exercise. Running can provide the benefits of being part of a running club, or you can run as a solo runner and enjoy challenging yourself. 

Boxing – As one of the more popular stress relievers, boxing fitness equipment has seen a surge in growth thanks to the home fitness market because it provides a high-intensity working full-body workout.  

Cycling – The effort and energy used to make cycling a great option to expel energy and generally feel better. If you want to there are lots of cycling clubs you can join for comradery. 

Gym workouts – Indoor any time, even at home, ideal to work through any issues while working out. With a gym, you can change up your routine. You also get to see others and socialise, which can be important if you are stressed and or low.  

Summary

Stress in a leadership role moves through direct reports who absorb the negativity and spread it throughout their infrastructure. Before you know it, people are leaving or going sick. As an owner, you could be facing legal actions and tribunals, which sounds extreme, but the severity of outbursts can land your business in hot water. 

Important – If it’s possible to do so, protect some time to allow your employees to exercise. Give them some basic facilities if space and budget allow. 

What to do about stress

Do not bottle it up. Your stress could be affecting others and damaging you. If you are a business owner and you’ve identified that your leaders are stressed, consider encouraging exercise to relieve stress and nurture a healthy team. Think about implementing a fitness space or providing gym memberships as a job perk. Some companies use activity days to team build and reset their leaders. Whatever you decide to do, the energy release is helpful and can diffuse the pressure and support a productive, proactive workforce that enjoys themselves and feel encouraged. If you found this article useful, let us know. 

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