CEOs, Use These Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19

People around the world are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety right now. Concern for loved ones, disruption to daily life, the fear of losing a job, and more all make for an extremely difficult time.

For CEOs, there’s the added stress of customer relations, leading the team and keeping your business going—which might mean layoffs and major budget cuts. This anxiety can build up and make daily life unmanageable.

Leadership starts with taking care of yourself. Here are four ways to do that:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

CEOs are often reluctant to share their feelings. As the head of the organization, revealing worries and insecurities can feel incredibly vulnerable—and risky. If employees hear that the CEO is worried about the future, they may interpret that to mean something much worse than intended.

Because of this, it’s pretty easy for CEOs to feel isolated and like there’s no one to talk to—or, really, that there’s no one to talk to who will truly understand what you’re going through. That’s why having a network of trusted colleagues is everything. If you don’t already have 2–3 other CEOs you can talk with candidly about your business, make it a priority to build that network. Start by reaching out to just one person.

Even after the health crisis passes, you’ll still need this network. And they’ll need you.

That’s one way to create a safe space for yourself, and it might not be enough. Regular sessions with a therapist will give you a set block of time to speak openly and honestly with an impartial third party who will listen without judgement. They may even be able to help guide you in making big decisions or changes in both your personal and professional life.

As a wellness and relationship coach, I can’t help but also suggest coaching. For CEOs, a professional coach offers confidentiality and a bespoke approach to the situation. I’m a fan of breakthrough coaching, which involves identifying specific mental blockers and then challenging those established modes of thought.

Whether you use one of these ideas or all three, the important thing is that you always remember that it’s okay to ask for help.

Stay informed

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything any of us have ever been through. And that’s exactly why everyone keeps saying that we’re all in this together—we really are.

There’s so much uncertainty right now, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the news, which seems to change every hour. In a time when it seems no-one has concrete answers, knowledge is power.

Identify a few reputable news sources and use them regularly for updates about the virus. Johns Hopkins University has a coronavirus resource center with a global dashboard and daily updates. You might also consider looking to industry-specific publishers for updates too, for a more tailored approach that relates to your business. Check out OpenView’s weekly capital markets roundup for vetted financial reads.

Create a daily routine—and stick to it

It’s easy to lose yourself in stress. When you’re stuck at a desk beyond normal working hours in a bid to meet customer needs, manage staff, and stay aligned with your team, it can feel like staying in control is a losing battle.

But it is possible to regain control by establishing a routine. Creating a solid routine that you can stick to on a regular basis gives shape to your day, particularly in a time when things are so erratic and unpredictable.

The power of a routine for stress management should not be underestimated. There are many examples of prisoners in solitary confinement who create a routine while incarcerated to keep them sane. While it’s a far cry from working from home, it illustrates the value of routine for maintaining mood.

Many of you reading this are working from home. But remote work doesn’t necessarily mean a sea change in your routine. Wake up at the same time, have breakfast at the same time, start work at the same time, and so on.

If your home situation doesn’t allow for that—perhaps you’re homeschooling your children in the mornings—create a new routine that works around it, and stick to it.

Build exercise into your day

Exercise is one of the most effective methods of controlling stress and anxiety available. It might feel like a cliche, but a solid workout is a powerful method of alleviating stress and managing mood.

Working out releases chemicals known as endorphins—one of the so-called “happy chemicals”—that respond to the brain’s pain receptors to help you manage stress and anxiety.

Build exercise into your routine by putting it on your schedule just as you would a work meeting. Obviously, there are limitations to what you can do at home, but there are tons of great resources for at-home workouts. A few to get you going:

If you’re used to working out, you’ll take to this with ease. If you’re a relative beginner, stick with it—it takes time and it will get easier.

The tips above will go a long way towards helping you manage and control your stress levels during these unprecedented times. But above all, know that what you’re experiencing is not unique to you. We’re all facing—and will overcome—this together.

Orion Talmay
Orion Talmay
Life Coach

Orion Talmay is a wellness expert and life coach. Through her integrative approach, Orion’s Method, she helps many awaken their inner confidence. Orion is a graduate of Tony Robbins’ Mastery University and holds certifications with the AAPT, KBA, and AFFA.
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