Leaders are less stressed, not more

By Shayna Brouker • Published: January 15th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

They say it’s lonely at the top, but it might be a little less stressful, too. Those in positions of power may be perceived to feel more anxiety, not less than their underlings. But the opposite is more often true, according to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That’s because leaders have an amplified sense of control, which can help fight feelings of stress. They might have more responsibility and a heftier workload, but they also enjoy more control over their schedule, like when they take lunch and leave the office. Those who truly enjoy their jobs feel less stressed, rise higher in the ranks and receive more benefits, perks, awards and adulation, leading to better self-worth and optimism.

On the other hand, junior employees might more often be overworked, underpaid and undervalued. Feeling uncertain about your role in an organization or the goals of the company can also increase anxiety. Juggling the demands of more than one boss and not being able to communicate your needs and desires can stress worker bees, too.

Stress might be shown in signs like a racing heart, headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, frequent illnesses and a cynical attitude about work. With those symptoms come absenteeism, low morale and diminished work ethic. Better bosses can turn it around by empowering employees to flex their schedule or initiating open dialogue, for example, and there are a few things employees can do for themselves to manage stress.

Take time to meditate, exercise and breathe deeply, no matter how busy you are. A quick mental break can make a difference in the rest of your day. Get organized, don’t procrastinate, delegate, learn to say “no” and concentrate on one thing at a time. Slashing unnecessary stress will make you that much more of a superstar on your way to the top.