Executive Stress: The Powerful Connection Between Organizational Productivity & Self-Care

June 26, 2018

We are in the business of patient care. Yet our own care for ourselves often falls short.

Sometimes to the detriment of our companies.

As I have been an executive in healthcare and at John Lynch & Associates, I have experienced first-hand how the amount of work, activities, responsibilities, and stressful situations can build on a person.

And I know I am not the only one who encounters this.

Luckily, there are several simple steps we can take to counteract this executive stress and maximize our productivity.

The Executive Myth

The taxing, overwhelming busyness of your schedule, the high-pressure situations, the looming threat of security breaches, the burden of decision-making that can affect hundreds of employees and thousands of patients – it is more than enough to lose sleep over.

For some reason, we have come to assume that this is part of the executive’s job description.

Do we accept that in order to lead a company to success we must be miserable ourselves? Do we truly believe that for our companies to thrive it must be at the detriment to our own personal health and family lives?

I think not.

While your 8-to-5 time is dedicated to your company, weekends and evenings are for you.

The Most Valuable Quality

The most valuable quality of a CEO is not a willingness to sacrifice everything for the company. Nor is it being a workaholic; and it is certainly not putting in 80 hours per week and accepting that as the norm.

No. The most valuable quality of a CEO is productivity.

To be productive in your everyday operation, to maximize your 40-hour-per-week schedule, to lead by example and inspire your colleagues, employees, and patients to make their own health and wellness a priority – those are the true qualities of a successful executive.

Find the Formula

I know what you are thinking:

How am I supposed to get the same amount of work done in less time?

Being productive comes down to one key skill: being at your very best every minute of your workday.

Hal Elrod, the author of the best selling book The Miracle Morning, calls it his “SAVERS” – a daily ritual of silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing/writing.

James Altucher, the venture capitalist and co-founder of more than 20 companies, swears by his P.I.E.S. routine, which makes time for daily physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth.

While holding any position of leadership comes with enormous pressure, coming to work fresh and rejuvenated alleviates a great deal of that pressure and allows you to handle stress far more effectively.

40 Is Greater Than 70

Years ago I worked with a healthcare facility implementing IT solutions. The norm for most members of the team was working 70 hours per week. Yet, they were not producing.

I was diligent – and outspoken – about working no more than 45 hours per week. While I was there, my team members followed suit.

Each team member dropped his or her hours to 40 – 45 hours per week and the results were monumental.

Our team began accomplishing more, crossing tasks of their lists that had been gathering dust for months, and outperformed those in other departments who were continuing to work 70-hour weeks.

Transform Your C-Suite

The healthier we are, the better we perform, the better quality of care and patient life we can deliver to patients and their families.

Healthy habits trickle down.

If you do not have healthy leadership, the job will be an impossible feat.

However, by showing your team that self-care matters to you and that they should never push their self-care to the side for the sake of work themselves, you can create a company culture that is dedicated to advancing healthcare at its core.

Advancing Healthcare

How can we advance healthcare if we are not advancing ourselves? How can we care for and educate patients about long-term wellness if we are not being mindful of our own?

To advance healthcare as an industry, we need to start by advancing our own self-care.

Be conscious of what you need to recharge. Make self-care a priority. Make an appointment with yourself that will make you more efficient and less stressed so you are able to master the most valuable quality of a great leader: productivity.

Define Your Priorities

Everyone responds to stress differently. Logically, then, everyone will require a different de-stressing regimen. The key, however, is to make self-care a priority and a routine.

One of my top priorities is protecting my schedule. I am diligent about protecting my lunch hour. That is my time to reset, rest, and nourish my mind and body. The result is that I am more productive in the afternoon. I am renewed and therefore able to produce more.

Another top priority for me is exercise. Running is my best thinking and planning time. My exercise time is good for my body, good for my company, and good for my clients.

Sleep is critical, as well. When I get seven to eight hours, I feel good all day. When I get six or less, I feel exhausted and I produce a fraction of what I could had I not sacrificed that extra hour of sleep.

Recharging spiritually, in whatever shape that takes for you, can keep you aligned and focused on your bigger purpose so day-to-day stressors have a smaller effect. For me and my family, our spiritual rejuvenation comes from attending church on Sunday and turning to the bible for guidance and wisdom. For others, it may be meditation, yoga, tai chi, reading religious texts, or anything that allows you to connect with your inner self.

To be the best leader and executive your company needs, establish your rest and recharge routines. Then protect them.

Gain Clarity

In my experience, approaching a problem in a refreshed, relaxed state gives one a clearer perspective on the challenges needing to be solved.

Once you have established your personal self-care routine, take a moment to re-evaluate problems that have persisted in your career.

Oftentimes a refreshed mind will see new solutions to workflow management obstacles, accounts receivable problems, and internal communications roadblocks that were invisible to an exhausted mind. If a solution still does not appear, you will know that it is time to ask for help and allocate your energy to where you can have the most impact.

Take 20

Self-care is something that is dear to my heart because I have lived the role of the executive and seen how dramatically my priorities affect those I work with and the clients I serve.

I encourage you to take twenty minutes today to sit down and think about your physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual health. Where are you strongest? Where are you lacking?

Most importantly, what routines can you create that will boost your personal health and well-being and allow you to be the best version of yourself every day?

Share your self-care routine in the comments below and brainstorm with other readers about the best way to make the most of a true 40-hour week.

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