Manage stress, build resilience and practice well-being

People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Any toddler will show you that.

As a business leader, one of your biggest areas of influence is the behavior you model. Are you treating others the way you want to be treated? Are you taking care of your health in the same fashion you’re asking your employees to? Are you managing stress like you want your employees to do? Are you taking vacation?

To sustain great leadership, to inspire others to be their best, self-care is not negotiable.

The World Health Organization estimates that stress and its effects cost American businesses more than $300 billion per year. Numerous studies about workforce stress reinforce the negative consequences of stress:

  19 percent of workers have quit a previous position due to stress.
  12 percent have called in sick due to stress.
  62 percent report routinely ending their day with work-related neck pain.

Think for a moment of a time when you were at your best. What was it like? Did you feel energetic, visionary, inspiring, funny, compassionate?

Now think of a moment when you were at your worst and acting like someone you do not want to be: Were you stressed, impatient, angry, cynical, judgmental, closed minded?

Perhaps this second state might get you what you need, but the price you pay is high. These negative behaviors can build a culture of fear — fear of risk, fear of judgment, fear of failure — and negativity. And it can create a stressful environment for everyone around you.

I invite you to model the kind of behavior that can help manage stress, build resilience and foster well-being.

Even the smallest changes can make a difference. Here are a few suggestions to get started:

■  Practice and live gratitude: Write down five things you are grateful for and perhaps share them at the start of a meeting or post them on your office door. Say thank you to someone every day. Create and send a weekly thank-you note and also accept and collect thank-you notes when you receive them. Perhaps even post them in your office.
■  Turn off your cellphone at meetings and in the hallways.
■  Stop sending emails outside of regular business hours. (In France, it’s illegal to do so now!)
■  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
■  Take a walking meeting and encourage others to do the same. Start a meeting with a one-minute centering meditation. This can be as simple as 60 seconds of silence to breathe, reflect and calm.

Dr. Francoise Adan is medical director at University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network