17 Unconventional Ways Highly Successful People Cope With Stress

17 Unconventional Ways Highly Successful People Cope With Stress

Highly successful people are usually juggling a lot more than the average person—whether they are the CEO of a company, or running a small business, stress is an annoying part of the process. However, according to Dr. Lisa Feldman Barret Ph.D., a neuroscientist, author, and Psychology Professor at Northeastern University, highly successful people don’t view stress as something negative, instead, they view stress as a natural part of life that can be managed. Furthermore, highly successful people aren’t afraid to use unconventional strategies to help them manage their stress levels while boosting their sense of calm, and confidence at the same time. Here are 17 unconventional ways that highly successful people cope with stress.

1. They do more of nothing

lazy man drinking on couch

provided by iStock

Although this might sound counter-intuitive, one unconventional way that highly successful people cope with stress is by intentionally making time to “do nothing”. It’s well known that hyper-successful billionaires like Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos make time for letting their brains fully detach from work. Bill Gates is open about the fact that he actively schedules entire “thinking weeks” into his calendar, allowing him to disconnect from all technology; Gates takes some time out to go to a cabin in the woods, and do as little as possible.

2. They play through their problems

man shooting basketball outside

provided by iStock

Highly successful people know that one of the keys to stress management is “playing through your problems.” While it’s natural to feel like we need to focus every ounce of our energy on whatever problem we’re facing, highly successful people understand the benefits of play, and the importance of stepping away from problems to allow their minds, and bodies to rest. Many dot-com companies are aware of the link between play, and productivity, hence why, we always hear about pool tables at Google and ping-pong games at Meta.

3. They identify and limit stressors

provided by Shutterstock

Highly successful people know the difference between managing stress and eliminating stressors. These are not the same thing; if you have a constant stressor in your life, you will be forever managing the stress caused by it, until you find a way to remove the source. Highly successful people aren’t afraid to take decisive action to eliminate stressors.

4. The value power of perspective

provided by Shutterstock

Another unconventional strategy highly successful people use to cope with stress is big-picture thinking. High achievers know that one of the most powerful tools in stress management is changing your perspective about a scenario, or situation. Instead of getting caught up in the minor details of things which could lead to more stress and eventually burnout, successful people know how to see the bigger picture, they take a step back and ask themselves questions like “Will this matter in one month?”.

5. They prioritize rest

provided by iStock

We are so used to hearing about the importance of work ethic, and hustle culture, however, while highly successful people know how to do the work, they also know how to rest. They understand that rest is productive and are intentional about taking regular breaks from work, even if it’s just for a walk around the block, or chilling with a coffee for 10 minutes. They know that these breaks will ultimately allow them to return to their desk recharged, and ready to be even more productive throughout the day.

6. They express themselves artistically

Group of energetic hip-hop dancers focused on training while gathered together in spacious dance hall

provided by iStock

Another unconventional way that highly successful people cope with stress is by being creative. Whether through painting, crafts, singing, playing an instrument, or dancing, high achievers use artistic expression to release pent-up emotions, and cope with stress. Research shows that engaging in forms of artistic expression can have a cathartic effect which helps us release and manage stress.

7. They create an inspiring work environment

provided by Shutterstock

Have you ever been in the office of a highly successful person? I have, and I’ve noticed that they make an effort to create an inspiring, relaxing, and uplifting workspace. For example, they might choose an office with a lovely view, or use candles and incense to create a feeling of calm, or they might use lamps, or natural daylight to set the mood. While all of these small details appear minor, they actually serve to help mitigate stress at work by creating a stimulating, relaxing, positive space where high achievers can spend a lot of time working on their goals.

8. They’re realistic optimists

provided by Shutterstock

Super-successful individuals engage in realistic optimism, which means that they are not blind to what could go wrong, they are realistic about what might work, and what might not. By doing so, they can plan around what might throw a venture off track, and mitigate risks, while staying optimistic that their hard work will pay off.

9. They’re solutions focused

thoughtful woman with glasses and notebook

provided by iStock

“Bring me solutions, not problems.” This quote, which is reportedly from the writer, and activist, Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, is often equated with highly successful people—research shows that solutions-focused individuals are more likely to experience less stress and be more successful at achieving their goals.

10. They prioritize and delay tasks

Strategy, planning and woman writing an idea, schedule or agenda on a sticky note board at work. Goal, creative and employee with an agenda, brainstorming and vision with project management notes

provided by iStock

High achievers have the confidence to reschedule a seemingly important meeting in favor of another one that they know will clinch a high-powered deal. This helps highly successful people move towards their goals at a faster rate while preserving energy and lowering stress at the same time. This strategy makes the difference between a busy day and a productive day, as we can all be busy, while not necessarily being productive.

11. They enforce boundaries

provided by iStock

Highly successful people know how to establish, and enforce healthy boundaries, and are confident in drawing a line when someone oversteps the mark. Highly successful people know how to assert themselves in a calm, professional manner—this allows them to prioritize their own needs, which helps them to cope with, and manage stress.

12. They prioritize their diet

provided by Shutterstock

Another unconventional way that highly successful people cope with stress is by prioritizing their diet, and being mindful of what they consume. And whenever I say, diet, I am not just talking about what they eat. High achievers understand the power of what they consume, via their mouths, and also their eyes and ears—that’s why highly successful people are careful about exposing themselves to negative news cycles, toxic social media trends, or even, negative people.

13. They know when to quit

Beautiful woman with coffee cup restaurant window

provided by iStock

Everyone thinks that to be highly successful you need to be the type of person who never quits, but this isn’t true. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet will tell you that the secret to their success has been knowing when to quit something, just as much as it has been, knowing when to start something. In his book “Screw It, Let’s Do It”, Richard Branson (the owner of Virgin), talks about how knowing when the right time to walk away from something is so important in business and life in general.

14. They embrace failure

provided by Shutterstock

Not only are highly successful people not afraid to fail, they embrace it. Truly successful people know that failure is a step towards success, it teaches you “what not to do” and they use failure as a stepping stone toward their goals. This positive perspective and willingness to learn from mess-ups help super-successful people cope with stress when things don’t go as planned.

15. They invest in themselves

provided by iStock

Highly successful people realize that they are their biggest asset in life, and therefore, they see the value in investing in themselves. High achievers prioritize investing money in things that will add value to their knowledge, and physical, or mental health, like hiring a coach, going on expert training courses, or getting regular massages.

16. They engage in deliberate Practice

provided by Shutterstock

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail,” and highly successful people know that practice makes perfect. That’s why they intentionally prepare for new, or daunting tasks until they feel confident performing them. Psychologists call this behavior deliberate practice, and it’s something that legendary greats such as Mozart, Kobe Byrant, and Picasso all engaged in.

17. Looking for love? Think it into existence.

couple taking selfie on city street

provided by iStock

Try our sister site, Sweetn, a new startup that uses science and research to help you transform your love life. Their cool quiz and tools teach you to use your mind to find love. Better yet, it starts to work in just a few weeks. Check it out here.

Catherine is an Irish writer with a passion for psychology, and all things intellectually stimulating.

After working on Game of Thrones, and being included in an Emmy award, Catherine was inspired to embark on her writing career, combining her Bsc Hons degree in Psychology with a passion for sharing the practical science of the subject.

Catherine loves nature and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but don't tell anyone that last part.
close-link
close-link
close-link
close-link