Stress isn’t always bad.
A certain level of stress gets you up for the game. It keeps you excited, keeps you on the edge, and keeps you hungry. But if you’re bathed in this amount of stress constantly, you don’t have enough recovery time. Your immune system will be weakened so you may get sick more often.
How much stress is “too much”?
We all have different tolerances for our ability to deal with different levels of stress. We need to be self-aware so that we can monitor how we’re doing.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story about boiling a frog. If you put a frog in a pot of warm water and gradually raise the temperature, the frog won’t hop out—it’ll stay there as the water reaches boiling point.Your small business is like that pot. The “temperature” gradually rises—perhaps you feel overworked or you’re pulled in lots of different directions. Are you monitoring the temperature of your business?
You don’t necessarily have to work fewer hours. Some people work 14 hour days and love it; others work seven hours and hate it because they’re in a toxic environment.
You have the opportunity to design your environment. That means asking yourself:
- What do I want to do more of?
- What do I want to do less of?
- What do I want to start doing?
- What do I want to stop doing?
You can tweak all the different elements of your business (and personal life). Perhaps you want:
- More rest, more recovery, more collaborative relationships—or just more fun!
- Less stress, and fewer toxic people.
Aim to start things that will recharge your batteries and fulfill your vision.
Stop doing things that no longer serve a purpose—remove them completely from your life. They might have been there for a very long time, but that doesn’t mean they need to stay forever.
How does your small business fit into your life?
We all need to make conscious decisions in the different domains of our lives.
Having a small business is one big part of your life—but you also have family, relationships, and health matters to juggle.
How many balls can you keep up in the air? Are they the right balls for you?
When do things get too stressful? When do balls start falling? What balls should you drop?
Strategies for avoiding and managing stress
#1: Say “no” more often
Saying “no” and stopping certain things gives us the freedom and flexibility to say “yes” to other things that are more fulfilling for us. This is fundamental to avoiding stress.
If you went to a buffet and sampled food that you didn’t like, you wouldn’t put it on your plate again. Yet in life, we allow things—events, people, other circumstances—to stay in our world, even though we dislike them.
#2: Stop doing so much
For many of us, the hardest thing is to stop doing so much.
We pile more and more onto our plates, instead of looking at what to remove. In a small business, you have many different roles so it’s easy to create an endless list of tasks. Try setting boundaries on your work day so that you get enough down-time.
#3: Find ways to relieve stress
There are lots of different ways to de-stress. You might try deep breathing, exercise, walking in nature, mediation, yoga, talking with a friend, or taking a bath.
Some people like to come home, work out, and take a shower—they wash the day away.
Others like to play with their kids, or with a pet—they change their focus, and so the cares of the day go away.
Taking frequent breaks throughout the day, or having a power-nap or a brief walk in the sunshine, can also help. If you’re running your own business, then you have the freedom to arrange your day to suit you.
Cleaning up clutter can also be very helpful: getting the car washed, having your hair cut, rearranging a file—anything that gets you back in control.
But unless you’re aware that you’re under stress, and that you have options, then it’s impossible to deal with it.
What steps could you take, today, to reduce stress in your own life and business?
Barry Demp is a highly-skilled Michigan Business and Personal coach, working with small business owners, executives and other professionals. He has a free ebook Time Management Strategies and Tactics: A Workbook available on his website, and he blogs regularly about self-improvement.