9 Stress-Busting Tips for Company Directors

11 July 2024

Running a company is stressful at the best of times, but the economic rollercoaster of the past few years (Brexit, Covid, and now a cost-of-living crisis to boot) has left us all feeling the pressure. 

Waiting for the next proverbial shoe to drop is enough to test the resolve of even the most unflappable director, but beware, the next big threat to your company could be stress itself. 

You cannot expect to lead with vision while exhausted and irritable from lack of sleep. Let alone motivate your employees into feats of excellence while struggling to rally your own enthusiasm. 

At the right levels stress can pull you out of your comfort zone, challenging you to fulfil untapped potential, but let it get out of hand and you could lose creativity, productivity, and efficiency. Psychologists call this the Goldilocks Principle, not too little stress, not too much – just right.

As an insolvency practitioner and owner of our business, I understand the challenges of work and life generally and live with them like everyone else. I work every day with people dealing with immensely stressful situations and I’ve learnt several tricks over the years for trying to keep stress in the sweet spot for optimum performance. 

Here are a few I have found particularly effective.

Stay Active

Exercise is a great stress reliever, as it boosts your feel-good endorphins and distracts from daily worries. It can also help you sleep and improve your mood. With your new-found energy and optimism, you will soon start feeling calmer, more clear-headed and better focused. 

Grow Your Network

Friends and colleagues can have a huge impact on the way we feel, offering new ways of looking at our problems, boosting our confidence and providing support. Try growing your network of like-minded people by joining new social groups, making new professional contacts or arranging after-work drinks with colleagues. 

Have Fun

Few things are better for stress than good company, good times and laughter. 

No matter how busy you are, make time to enjoy yourself. Take up a hobby you enjoy and do things that make you laugh. Surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart and will be there to support through good and bad. The more you are enjoying life, the more relaxed you will be and the more energy you will bring to your company. 

Take Calculated Risks

Challenge yourself. Try something you have never done before, even if you suspect you may be terrible at it.

Whether it is learning a new language or taking up a new hobby, the confidence boost will help you deal with the stresses in your life. It could also help you meet new people and have more fun. 

Live Well

Many of the things we do to cope with stress, like smoking, drinking, and littering our desks with sugary snacks, can actually make it worse. 

Caffeine can affect sleep, alcohol is a depressant and high calorie foods can leave us feeling sluggish, bloated and tired. Ditch the unhealthy habits in favour of food rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and nutrients and you will feel more energetic, confident and relaxed. 

Do Good

Research shows that helping others can have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing. In short, helping others helps you. 

Consider volunteering in your local community, or if you cannot commit the time for that, try adding an act of kindness into your daily routine. You could make a point of doing someone a favour each day, grab coffee for your team or check in with friends and family who are going through a hard time.

Work Smart

Working yourself into the ground is unlikely to help your company succeed, but a highly focused leader at the top of their game, might. By prioritising the most important items on your to do list and delegating or removing the rest, you can free up time to focus on growing your company’s fortunes. 

Be Grateful

When you are under pressure and overworked it can be easy to overlook the positives. Even the biggest achievements can be relegated to a ticked off item on a checklist. But it’s important to recognise the moments of success. 

A useful trick is to write down three things that went well, or that you are grateful for, at the end of each day. You will be surprised how much there is to be proud of.

Take Control

Remember, you are in control of your stress. It is not in control of you.

Stress is a part of you, a product of your own mind and body. That means you can control it. Reminding ourselves of that fact can empower us and make stress more manageable.

Few of us can predict what the next crisis looming over the horizon will be, let alone how it will impact our business. The most damaging events are always the ones we least expect. After all, who could have foreseen a global pandemic forcing the lockdown of every major city in Europe? 

But take care of yourself, and keep your stress under control and you will have the stamina and outlook you need to see your company through whatever surprises are heading our way.