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Taking the Time to Refresh: Effective Ways to Manage Stress and Increase Productivity

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

How are you showing up for yourself?

Over the years, I’ve heard ALL kinds of answers, from weed (not kidding) to rollerblading to “Ummm… nothing.”

From managing finances, and marketing to dealing with customers and staying on top of production, there is always something needing your attention. This constant pressure can be overwhelming even for the most seasoned leaders.

So how do you ensure things are running smoothly while maintaining your personal store of energy?

One way that is often offered up is the practice of meditation. Meditation is supposed to be a simple yet powerful technique that can help to calm the mind, reduce stress, and increase focus and concentration.

That sounds lovely.

But what if you’re a person that can’t even sit still long enough to enjoy your lunch when it’s the correct temperature? I have tried mindfulness meditation, which involves continually bringing your attention to the present moment. I have attempted transcendental meditation, which involves repeating a mantra to quiet the mind. I have tried sitting by myself, and I have tried using the meditation classes in MIRROR.

But the pressures of life always find me. The phone chirps, the dog barks, and my mind wanders to my email or a looming deadline. So, I gave up trying to stuff myself into a meditation practice because everyone said it was the thing. Instead, I

  • read a book

  • take a walk

  • listen to a dharma talk

  • enjoy a night out with friends, mindfully listening

  • take a 15-minute micro nap

My favorite activity is going for a walk. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, the time away from my monitor refreshes my eyes and spirit.

I also reserve Sundays as an untouchable day. I don’t make any plans. It’s a day I can do whatever I want. If I want to write or work, I do that. If I want to sit on the couch like a potato, I do that too, without giving myself a guilt trip.

That is the key—you must have something energizing in your life that you make space for without guilt. If you don’t have an energy maintenance practice, or don’t commit to it, here are some great reasons to start:

  1. Support physical and mental health: You face a lot of stress and demands, which can take a toll on physical and mental health before you even realize it’s happening. When we are stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol, which can lead to adverse effects on our health and well-being. As the leader of your company, you owe it to yourself to prevent burnout and maintain overall well-being.

  2. Improved decision-making: Taking care of ourselves improves cognitive function and clarity of thought, leading to better decision-making. A self-care practice can help to clear the mind and allow you to approach problems and decisions with a fresh perspective.

  3. Set a good example: As leaders, we can and should set the example for employees, colleagues, and family. By embracing small practices that give us energy and harmony, we demonstrate the importance of self-care and encourage others to do the same.

  4. Ramp up innovation: Mental clutter and stress drag us down. When well-rested and balanced, we are likely to be more productive, allowing space to tap into the creative part of the brain and allow for more flexible thinking.

Every business leader gets overwhelmed. It’s essential to be honest with yourself and call in help sooner rather than later. Consider making an appointment for self-care part of your daily routine, or get an accountability buddy. You may be surprised by the positive effects of self-care on your productivity, well-being, and overall success.


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