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Turn runaway stress into power

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Smart managers don’t manage stress. They eliminate it.

If you deal with the core causes of stress rather than merely treating its symptoms, you can save yourself from fighting a constant battle of nerves. With most visits to primary care physicians caused by stress-related problems—Psychology Today puts the number at nearly 90 percent—controlling anxiety can improve your health.

Take these steps to root out stress-inducers:

Impose “pre-deadlines.” Procrastinators may think they’re at their best when cramming to complete projects. Don’t believe it. Racing to tie together loose ends is inherently stressful.

Solution: Impose your own pre-deadline that falls safely before the actual deadline. If you need to finish a report by Friday, insist on a Wednesday due date and stick to your schedule.

Get more sleep. One of the easiest ways to relieve stress is to experiment with your sleeping patterns. If you tend to burn the midnight oil or kill a few hours watching late-night TV, you deprive yourself of rest that’ll gird you for tomorrow’s hectic pace.

If you’re functioning on less than six hours of sleep (as many managers do), commit to seven hours and watch the stress melt away. If you usually get seven hours but you’re still exhausted and stressed all day, try going a few weeks with eight hours of sleep and see the difference.

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