Now, before you assume that in this article I’m going to tell you how to completely remove stress from your life as an entrepreneur, let me just say: there’s no way to be 100% stress free as a business owner. Stress is part of what you signed up for, so the best you can do is lower or avoid it in the first place.
First, You’re Not Alone
While 45% of entrepreneurs ‘fess up to being stressed, I’m willing to bet that many more hide the fact that they’re overwhelmed from everyone, just like I did when I was having panic attacks. Fortunately, there’s a growing trend among entrepreneurs of speaking out about how difficult it is to run a business. You can feel comfortable knowing you’re not the only one who’s running around like your hair’s on fire.
Mitigating Your Stress
Like I said, there’s no complete cure for stress, but there are measures you can take to reduce it. First and foremost, take care of yourself. Many of us learn the hard way that when you put yourself last, you’re the first to suffer the consequences. So get out and take a walk. Take off early one day. Go see a movie by yourself. Whatever you need to do to take simple pleasures and step out of your head, if only for five minutes, do it.
If you find yourself gravitating to the same people whenever you want to complain about work (your spouse, friend, employee), remove yourself from that negative cycle. Sometimes we use negativity as fodder to feed a very unhealthy fire. Focus instead on talking about what’s going well in your business.
I’m willing to bet you could stand to get more sleep, couldn’t you? Most Americans don’t get enough, and entrepreneurs are even worse at getting enough shuteye. That means you’ll have to shut off your smartphone an hour or so before bed so that your brain can calm down and actually go into recharge mode.
Speaking of your smartphone, is it attached to you at all times? You assume it’s making you productive, but your phone is actually causing anxiety. Realize that being connected all of the time isn’t healthy, and set a cutoff time for when you’ll stop checking work email (6 pm works for me).
I find that when I don’t exercise, I’m more stressed. And when I’m stressed, I crave a good workout. Inevitably a short run or gym session has my blood pressure down and helps me put things in perspective.
If you’re extremely overloaded with stress, find someone to talk to. That might (or might not) be your spouse. It might be a therapist, or a fellow business owner. Essentially you need a sympathetic ear who can help you take the load you’re carrying off, and help you appreciate what’s good in your life. A therapist could help you with coping mechanisms if anxiety is taking over your life.
Stress comes and goes, but having strategies to cope with it is essential for keeping it at bay.