Promoted? You Need GUTSY Ways to Handle the Stress

GUTSY Ways to Handle the Stress

Summary: Promotions always have a bright and a dark side. Often, there is a tendency to feel overwhelmed. Here are some tips for men as well as all the women leaders out there.

The black hole of feeling overwhelmed can be changed with intention.

I get lots of emails and phone calls with the same question. People wonder why men experience less overwhelm and burnout than women when promoted.

So I did some research. I found that women often are more willing to speak out. Men tend to look strong on the outside while they feel weak internally.

However, the big disconnect is that women still take on more responsibility at home. They are feeling overwhelmed with the double role of business leader and family caretaker.  

While it’s great that more women are in a leadership role, so often, it comes at a price. To clarify, can a woman have it all? That is to say, not be so completely stressed out that the job becomes a burden?

Also, can men readjust their thinking to become more of an equal partner at home?

My answer is yes! So I was hoping you could read the email looking for GUTSY ways to handle stress at work.

Here is just one tidbit from my research on women, promotions, and feeling overwhelmed.

Valuable Information for Men: Do the Laundry!

One of the fascinating things I found in my research may help couples’ relationships: When a man helps to do the laundry, there is an uptake in intimacy with their partner. Does it work? You can ask my husband!

Okay, back to the email I received from an exhausted executive.

Is it possible to celebrate a new promotion and have healthy boundaries?

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I received a promotion at the beginning of the pandemic. There has been an abundance of working from home. And lots of Zoom calls. It looked like a great fit.

On the other hand, I’m beginning to wonder if I can do it all.

For example, I’m struggling to deal with the pressure of the expanded workload and extra responsibilities I now have.

Not just here at work, but home too.

Does performance get better with a big bonus?

For instance, my company’s performance plan uses lots of data to measure success. There are goals and stretch goals. As a result, the expectation is that folks are more motivated.

Above all, they are less motivated.

To sum up, it’s not working, and there’s lots of complaining. They say that the money is not enough to make them work beyond what is healthy.

But instead of motivating them, as their leader, they end up un-motivating me. It’s sad to say! Isn’t that sad to hear?

How to decide what to decide

Even small decisions send me into a daily panic about whether I’m getting it right. I’m an emotional mess, living on the edge of constant fear.

In this new position, I work at least 10 hours a day. I snap at everyone around me, and I’m finding it hard to switch off.

And when I eventually sleep, I mostly dream about work. And those dreams are not at all pleasant.

How can I turn it around?

To add one more factor, my husband and teenage kids (3 of them) say I am a true ogre.

Therefore, life is not beautiful.

Thanks in advance for your insights.


Here’s my reply with GUTSY ways to handle stress:

Dear Kristen,

My sympathies are with you.

The stress you talk about triggers many different workplace scenarios. There can be absenteeism, health issues, and often, lots of conflicts. On the other hand, they all have a similar constant denominator that we lump into the category called stress.

You end up feeling overwhelmed. I get it. Moreover, when stress rears its ugly head, you start snapping at those you work with and those you love. Next, come sleepless nights with lots of tossing and turning.

Let’s look at how to turn the negative into a positive.

Firstly, here is what happens when you use statistics to figure out how to keep your team on their toes.

Please note, this can be helpful. However, it should always be people first, statistics next. I hope you agree.

The good and bad of measuring employee success with statistics

Your company’s policy uses regular targets to guide and monitor performance. This method is a classic motivational tactic.

Here is some information I think you will find helpful.

Do you know the psychological reason for using stretch goals?. This design produces performance-enhancing chemicals such as adrenalin and cortisol.

Those chemicals heighten your short-term ability to complete tasks and improve focus. The downside is that you experience excessive stress if you don’t have time to recover;

Stress begins to interfere with your ability to perform in your job and your personal life. It also impacts your physical health. After that, it’s a clear signal that something’s gotta give.

Create New Boundaries for Yourself.

It’s time to change your thinking. It’s now that you can change your actions.

You’ve allowed your workload to creep into your home life.

This intrusion has ended up affecting your ability to relax, wind down in the evenings, and sleep at night.

Please remember, it is NOT selfish to be self-caring.

If I may sound a bit “woo-woo.” Self-caring is self-loving. Nuff said.

Start by stopping.

That means, please finish work at a reasonable time each day…period.  

If you feel like you need to check your email at night, only do it only once. Then turn off your phone or computer. 

You’ll find that you are much more present. And especially when you give yourself some “me” time.

Take TEN, It’s The Magic Number.

Here’s another suggestion. When you feel the pressure mounting, take some (mental) timeout. That means every day, daily.

Refocus your thoughts and gain perspective and clarity.

In other words, It’s mindfulness training. Here’s how it works. Above all, stop what you are doing, close the door and pay attention to the present moment. Let go of negative thoughts—ten minutes at a time.

This exercise can be an effective way to help you through those inevitable challenging situations you are facing.

Begin to Trust Yourself. Yes You Can, Actually it’s a MUST!

It’s all too easy to overthink and second guess yourself, especially when you are new in your leadership position.

Think about your promotion—question yourself. Write down how you knew this was the right choice for you.

Make a conscious decision to trust in your ability to make good decisions.

You Have the Power to Claim Control

While it isn’t possible to control every single situation, you CAN control yourself.

So start by focusing on what you can control and spend less time being anxious about what you can’t.

If you feel like your workload is unmanageable, brainstorm some ideas to improve your productivity. Most importantly, delegate more tasks if at all possible.

You can also reach out for a complimentary strategy session with one of our talented coaches.


So I suggest that you start by making sure you leave the office routine at a reasonable time.

After that, give yourself a break you so desperately need. No excuses, no fear. Just take time for yourself.

Did you know that there is now more focus on well-being than ever before? That’s a step in the right direction.

Notice you can now handle the day-to-day stressors that will inevitably pop up.

Then start focusing on what you can control, trust that you have what it takes to make the right decisions.

And remember to make sure you give yourself room to breathe and refocus. Take ten a few times during the day.

Those are some of my GUTSY ways to handle stress at work.

All the best,


PS. Want to get to the bottom of de-stressing for health and wellness? Join my stress mastery Facebook group. Get ideas to stay in the “safe stress zone.” You will feel better and better as you conquer old ways of tackling stress.

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Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options