Feeling particularly stressed or anxious lately? You should try spending some time around pets or other animals. Interacting with animals for just 10 minutes can help calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety.
In times of isolation, social interactions with animals can replace interactions with humans in many ways. Petting an animal or even talking to your pet can foster a sense of emotional connection and companionship.
The responsibility of a pet can also help. Taking a break from work to walk the dog, feed the cat or refill the water bowl can add necessary routine to your schedule and provide a sense of fulfillment in taking care of someone else.
But you don’t need to actually own a pet to reap the stress-reducing benefits. You can visit a friend’s pet, go to the dog park on your lunch break or even take a trip to a petting zoo over the weekend.
Source: “How Spending Time With Pets Can Help Us Cope With Stress,” Thrive Global, April 19, 2021
Don’t forget to prioritize your wellness. A leader’s own mental, physical and emotional wellness needs to be a top priority. As they say, you need to put your own mask on first. An overstressed, burnt-out leader won’t be much use to his or her team. On a daily basis, find a way to break a sweat, recalibrate mentally, and do something to either lift your spirits or help you relax. This can be spending time with family, bingeing on Netflix, reading a good book—whatever helps to “fill the “spirit tank” (life your spirits).
Once you’ve ensured your own well-being, it’s time to check in on your team. Be sure to intersperse the usual team meetings with some one-on-ones. Ask how each person is doing and offer support as needed.
Source: “3 things leaders should prioritize right now (and always, actually),” The Art of Leadership, April 16, 2020
Research shows that grateful people experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better and even have stronger immune systems.
How can you become more grateful?
- Be present in the moment. Be aware of your breathing, sense your body and really take note of the world around you.
- Try to appreciate the little things you often take for granted or overlook (e.g., the taste of chocolate or the feel of a plush blanket).
- Be kind to yourself—treat yourself the way you would a good friend and silence that negative voice.
- Take the time to thank others. There are a lot of people providing service for you on a regular basis—store clerks, waitresses, delivery people.
- Give back—donate to a charity, volunteer for a nonprofit, offer to mentor someone.
- At the end of each day, write down at least three things that made you feel grateful that day.
Source: “How to Find Thanks and Gratitude,” Jesse Lyn Stoner on Leadership, November 2019