Sarah Steventon - Psychotherapist For High Achievers Anxiety & Stress Expert Specialist in Extreme Pressure Environments Central London & Cotswolds

CEOs) and CFOs face a unique set of challenges and stressors than the rest of their organisation.

According to a recent survey from Norwest, many chief executives in the United States experience mental health challenges surrounding various issues, including a fear of failure (90 percent), worries about revenue growth (49 percent), and maintaining work-life balance (46 percent).

CEOs often find themselves isolated, and no-one to confide in. There is immense pressure to measure up to an image, and feel an expectation on them to be visionary and always in control.

As a leader, you have to jump on ideas and provide an environment where employees can be creative and take risks. This is extremely difficult to do if you’re not in good psychological shape yourself.

Complex decisions should be easy to the CEO, but when stress is brought into the mix, it can be catastrophic for the individual and in turn the organisation.

Psychological research has pointed to a few potential causes. Some research has shown that heightened stress levels cause our attention to narrow. Humans already have a tendency to focus on often irrelevant, but readily accessible, characteristics when making decisions.

However, struggling to remain rational in the face of stress isn’t merely a test of will, due to the fact that there are actual physiological mechanisms at work when we are acutely stressed out that impair our ability to make rational, clear-headed decisions.

Stress triggers our glands to release elevated levels of the hormone cortisol into our circulatory system as part of the so-called “fight or flight” response. Part of this process also reduces activity in our pre-frontal cortex, where thinking occurs, while adrenaline simultaneously elevates basic physiological activity, like increasing our heart rate and breathing. Our body is being primed for one binary but critical decision: attack the threat or flee from it. These mechanisms help with that simplistic job.

Cortisol can fire us up as we rapidly decide to defend ourselves or flee from a physical threat, but it’s highly counterproductive when it comes to rapidly weighing complex odds, or thinking strategically about the future of the business.

As humans, we generally crave certainty and use mental shortcuts when making decisions. Stress increases our reliance on these heuristics and makes us more prone to project patterns that aren’t there, which means we made potentially bad decisions, or mistakes, and then trusting our own judgement.

We start to doubt our ability, and start feeling anxious, or irritable. We might feel we suddenly aren't capable of doing the job, or we suffer from what is commonly called 'Imposter syndrome'.

So in summary, if we are stressed, we are not thinking clearly, and certainly not operating at our best. But this can be easily fixed.

We can make a change to how you feel instantaneously, so you actually feel the difference there and then in the session.

This therapy is very process driven, so there is not the endless need for talking things though. The work is fast, so we get stuff sorted in super rapid time.

Everyone is different, so we hit your issues directly. Some common issues are listed below, but it may be something completely unique to you.

Anger issues
Fear of failure
A lack of self-confidence or self-worth
Imposter syndrome
Stress, and feelings of isolation
Problems with switching off or relaxing
Issues with delegation, micro-management, or feeling out of control

Many coaches are now looking to train in psychotherapy, as they often feel unequipped to really help someone just by talking things through. Talking can help to a degree - but only to make you aware of the issues - it cannot actually help to change how you feel, like this style of therapy can.

Get in touch and make the change in a fast and simple way.

Are you a perfectionist?

Often successful individuals struggle with perfectionism or they are 'perfectionists'.

This can cause what we call "high functioning anxiety".

We often see these individuals don't seek help for many reasons - such as:

You consider it a double-edged sword and don't want to lose the positive influence of anxiety on your achievements.

You are worried that your work will suffer if you are not constantly driven to work hard out of fear.

You might think that because you seem to be achieving (strictly from an objective standpoint) it means you do not "need help" for your anxiety—or perhaps that you don't deserve help.

You might think that everyone struggles the way that you do and may think of it as normal. On the other hand, you might believe that you are just "bad" at dealing with life stress.

You've never told anyone about your internal struggles and your silence has reinforced the feeling that you can't ask for help

Unhealthy perfectionism is characterised by an excessive focus on control. Perfectionists can become extremely picky and preoccupied with making sure that everything is flawless, which can lead to attempts to control situations or people. This can contribute to stress and take a toll on interpersonal relationships.

The stress caused by this level of perfectionism can lead to feelings of anxiety and has been linked to outcomes such as low self-esteem, eating disorders, using alcohol or drugs in excess, sleep disturbances, and psychological distress


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