Stress Management Techniques that Keep You Centered and Make You an Effective Leader
As a trainer, your audience expects you to lead by example. You are judged starting the minute your audience first sets eyes on you. It is important that you command respect and project authority with your actions. How are you being perceived?
If you are not managing stress successfully, you run the risk of inadvertently sabotaging your leadership skills. People do not want to follow, much less be around, people who lose their temper, don’t really listen to them, are disorganized or unfocused, are always rushing, are exhausted, and are unable to project a calm and self-confident image. Managing your stress successfully will help you be a qualified leader in your field. Here are some techniques that can help.
Getting eight hours of sleep each night is critical to your mental and physical well-being. Sleep deprivation leads to impatience and difficulty focusing. When training, you need to be able to respond quickly and professionally to questions and events. Lack of sleep slows or even causes a failure in cognitive processes like thinking, comprehension, learning and memory.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Two additional important antidotes to stress are meditation and mindfulness. Merriam-Webster defines “meditate” as “to engage in contemplation or reflection” or “to engage in mental exercise … for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley defines mindfulness as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” Mindfulness can be described as “walking meditation.”
Practicing meditation at least once or twice each day helps put you in a calm, centered frame of mind. Meditation builds on sleep by providing rest for your central nervous system. Both meditation and mindfulness teach slow, relaxed breathing, which enables you to think more clearly and deeply. It can also lower your blood pressure and increase your overall physical health.
Over time, the change in your mental and physical well-being can be profound. Instead of teaching with a traditional Western attitude that is rigid and fast-paced, teaching with an Eastern mindset that is based on introspection will create an atmosphere of calm and peacefulness. This relaxed atmosphere invites your audience in without fear of failure and opens their acceptance of you and participation in the program. It is an unspoken, human-to-human communication channel.
In addition to adequate sleep, meditation and mindfulness, the fourth brick in your foundation for handling stress and becoming a respected leader is exercise. Consulting with a physician is essential in helping you create an exercise program right for you, but a routine of cardiovascular, weight resistance and/or yoga training can help you feel and look your best. Physical activity augments brain and body functions. It releases endorphins that improve your attitude, tone and strengthen your muscles, and increase the blood flow throughout your body.
Self-discipline is the key to developing these habits that will help you handle stressful situations, keep you balanced, and make you someone others want to follow as a role model and leader.
Diane de Mere is a semi-retired corporate trainer whose first book, “Happy Tales: How to Manage Stress and Find Peace and Joy,” is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, WestBow Press and www.dianedemere.com. Living with her husband and Alaskan malamute in the Pacific Northwest, she writes a blog on stress management and supports the environment and animal rescue.
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