How 7 of the world’s most successful people keep calm during stressful times

“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.”– Andrew Bernstein

It’s hard to remain focused and driven during a year of unprecedented events leaving folks bewildered and at a loss to manage the stress of a new normal imposed by a global pandemic.

You may want to write down some stress busting techniques laid out by some of the global elite’s most innovative and formative minds on the forefront of political, business, and creative advancements in the past couple of years.

I took into account substantial research and interviews held with these influential folks to create a comprehensive list to figure out the best ways in which you can conquer stress and your industry.

Most reactions to stress come from a knee-jerk reaction to fear and unregulated emotions. The key to absolving stress to move forward to finish important projects lies in the way you think and how you control your inner dialogue.

Eric Yuan

Zoom has had a banner year with everything from business to education moving remote. Yuan’s key to keeping stress free and focused on the continued growth of his company is empathy and transparent communication.

This interview with Eric Yuan lays out his secret to success and upholding a company culture focused on employee and customer happiness.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the employee’s happiness. Your business can’t go to the next level unless all employees can get there. We all have to get better every day to succeed.Keeping everything open and transparent is how we do it. Choosing the right people who actually care is at the core of our culture. First and foremost, investors need to be aligned with your employees and your customers.”

A happier team leads to a more productive team that sticks with the company due to a supportive company culture easing the stress levels of all involved on the ground floor.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and lauded for his philanthropic nature has a secret to remaining cool under stress, washing the dishes then cracking open a novel before bed! According to research data backs up the stress relieving power of having a default nightly routine. An interview that featured Bill recently adds the meditative power behind a pre-bedtime ritual,

“A study that came out of Florida State University in 2015 found that practicing mindfulness techniques while washing dishes can decrease stress. Reading before bed as Gates does has also been shown to reduce stress in scientific studies.”

Switching from your tablet to a paperback book also has sleep inducing properties since less exposure to blue light before bed doesn’t disturb the body’s natural reserves of melatonin that aids us in a restful sleep. Well rested folks often report lower levels of stress and higher levels of mindfulness to get them through the following morning.

Serena Williams

This tennis star, mother, and fashion line designer has a fair amount on her plate so how does she cope with anxiety while trying to (and succeeding mind you) have it all? Her advice to women experiencing imposter syndrome and those gatekeepers in male dominated industries is to push past all that doubt and say yes to any and all opportunities that come your way, even if the answer is no at first.

 Williams drove home this point in the following excerpt from an interview.

“Don’t be afraid of the word no. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad result. It just means try again. You can’t be afraid to ask, because if you don’t, no one else is. … If you just go out there and not be afraid of the negative result, you’ll be surprised. You may get a positive result.”

More often than not it is inaction that brings us stress when reacting to a situation that requires you to take agency and make a decision in the moment.

Leana Wen M.D.

Leana Wen is one of the most innovative and influential healthcare leaders working tirelessly to ensure access to healthcare for those millions of Americans left uninsured due to the coronavirus crisis this year. She also authored the book “When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests” and made tremendous strides towards a comprehensive plan to deal with the opioid crisis.

Shouldering so much responsibility regarding how we provide healthcare to our citizens is a lot to take on so how does Dr. Wen unwind at the end of a long day?

She was interviewed recently in regards to how she successfully managed stress during her stint at Medical School, a rigorous and oftentimes break-down inducing ordeal, especially during midterms.

“We’re not here to study and get the best grade, we’re not here to study and learn just about diseases for the sake of learning about diseases, ultimately we want to care for people, and we want to help them figure out what it is that they have, and how they can get better.So keeping in mind that mission, but also doing things actively around that mission, even when our day-to day lives involve just studying and taking tests, being involved in the community, being involved in outreach, these are ways to keep us connected to why we entered medicine, and I think it’s the single most important thing for combating stress.”

Logan Green

Logan Green CEO of Lyft has a few ways to deal with the stress of running a multi-million dollar ride share service. He’s the Co-founder of Uber’s largest competitor alongside John Zimmer. How does this dynamic duo relieve stress?

The whole image and culture of Lyft is founded on the idea that playing nice and supporting local economies relieve stress, why? Green goes into more detail in this brief next. 

“Particularly when it comes to the regulatory environment, being a jerk doesn’t actually get you very far. The folks that you need to work with are the ones who are making the decisions. A lot of the other companies in the space have really left a bad taste in regulators’ mouths. It’s actually been a huge advantage when we come in and we take the time to sit down and get to know them, explain the business, explain what we do. I think we’ve gotten a lot further being able to change regulations with that approach.”

Research done previously at Ladders agrees with Green’s play nice sentiments since a positive or “nice” attitude relieves chronic stress and the adverse effects associated with a cynical mindset. 

Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet is the third richest man in the world but he’s also one of the biggest donors to philanthropic causes. How does a busy successful man like himself find the time to chill out during chaotic times of economic upheaval in our country?

He plays bridge with his buddy Bill Gates and strums the ukulele from time to time! This recent brief points out why picking up a hobby like learning a new instrument can be great for your overall well-being and stress levels. 

“Although he’s clearly not an expert musician, he is a bit of a ham, he often plays and sings at Berkshire Hathaway board meetings, charity events, and media appearances. This is another very smart choice because multiple studies show learning to play a musical instrument has brain benefits that can counteract the effects of aging. And the ukulele, one of the easiest instruments to play and one of the most inexpensive to buy, is a great place to start.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

One of the most influential political leaders of the last decade AOC has a lot to do in her day to day work championing the populouses access to basic human rights.

She tirelessly works for her people and at the end of her work day all she wants is her comfiest pair of pajamas. Self care nightly rituals signal to her brain that she is finally in “off” mode allowing her time to fully recharge to take on important congressional issues.

Here’s what she said in an interview with Thrive Global recently, “Having a set ‘lounge’ uniform can help condition your brain to make a clear distinction between working and not working. Too many of us allow work and home life to blur into one another… which allows chronic stress to spill over a lot.”

For those of us struggling to maintain a healthy work life balance this wardrobe change into a  lounge uniform can signal to your brain and body that it’s time to relax allowing you to destress completely before fighting the good fight the next day. Any excuse to break out my silk Hello Kitty pajama bottoms from my dorm room days of yore!