Executive stress and its effects: Here’s what to do about it

Silhouetted business people sit and discuss in a circle

According to an Integra Survey, 62 percent end the day with work-related neck pain. To make matters worse, more than half said they often spend 12-hour days on work related duties and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands.

According to a survey of 800,000 workers in over 300 companies, the number of employees calling in sick because of stress tripled from 1996 to 2000.

Stress is a killer, and executives – who work harder, longer, and have more responsibility than others – are most at risk of succumbing to stress-related maladies.

Here’s what to do about it.

The effects of executive stress

While workplace-related stress has skyrocketed in recent years, none have been as affected as those in the driving seat of business. CEOs, for example, spend an average 62.5 hours at work per week, and that doesn’t include putting out fires, responding to urgent emails and handling requests outside of office hours.

As a consequence of such demand, the stress you feel as an executive will age you. Here are some other side effects from feeling constantly stressed at work:

  • Low energy, demotivation and a lack of inspiration to come up with new ideas.
  • Frequent colds, illnesses and infections.
  • A loss of libido or desire for human connection.
  • Insomnia, chest pains, and aches and pains.

Or course, one of the made side effects of executive stress is the use of substances to maintain a high workload, or the effect on mental health. Many executives experience severe anxiety and depression related to workplace burnout, and this can affect life at home, too. Not only that, but many executives turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with such demanding work schedules.

In fact, in 2017 the New York Times reported on the story of a high-level executive who overdosed on substances after a long battle with substance abuse. The victim, Peter, was using to cope with the stress of his job, and because he was in a position of leadership, he failed to communicate his addiction and suffered in silence.

Work isn’t as important as your health.

What to do about executive stress

There are many things that you can do to ease the side effects of executive stress. Here are a few options:

Commit to healthy lifestyle changes

Learning how to switch off is as important as knowing when to turn it on. Work shouldn’t be a 24/7 thing, regardless of whether you own a business or just sit in a leadership position. Know when to turn off your emails and tune in to time with your family. Set strong boundaries with colleagues and ensure they respect them so that work doesn’t spill over into personal time. Finally, exercise regularly, eat well and get your eight hours. Set your alarm for 7am and go to bed at 11pm. Billy don’t be a hero.

Remain aware of your stress triggers

Remaining mindful of what triggers your stress at work is vital to knowing when to step back and take a break. If you haven’t moved your body in many hours, be sure to do so. If you’re feeling sad and unproductive, don’t try to slog through. Go outside and get some fresh air.

Knowing when you’re feeling a heightened level of stress means that you can work to keep your stress levels in check, proactively working to reduce your heart rate (and save your life) at the same time.

Turn to support

Friends, family members and other colleagues you can trust are all good places to turn to. Alcohol, cocaine and gambling are not. Talk about how you’re feeling and recognize how people are reacting to your current moods. Feeling snappy and irritable because of work? That’s not a positive sign and there is no excuse. Recognize this and open up with your friends and family, don’t ‘react badly’ to their concerns.

Professional help for executive stress

If, after some time, the above approach to workplace stress reduction doesn’t have an effect on you, it might be time to look for further intervention to help you regain control over every aspect of your life.  

Rehab centers like us are here to help executives like you build a strong set of tools that’ll help you manage your stress better for years to come. There is no avoiding the feeling of stress. In fact, in many aspects it’s a positive thing that keeps up on our toes and working hard.

But when that feeling boils over and your health begins to deteriorate, it’s time to do something about it. As executives, though, it can be tough to take extended time away from the office to seek help for your stress. That’s why we’ve created the 10-day Executive Stress program. In just a little over a week, we can help you regain control and learn the tips and tricks you need to manage your stress.

To find out more, contact our admissions office today.

About Adam Nesenoff

Adam Nesenoff has been working in recovery for over ten years.

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