Are you feeling stressed, worried or overwhelmed? Is stress affecting your ability to focus on your business clearly? Do you want to do something proactive to reduce stress but don’t know where to start, or think you don’t have the time?
Running your own business can be stressful. There are so many different aspects that all need managing. Strategy, marketing, finance, human resources, technology and operations to list a few.
It’s a lot of balls to juggle.
And, as if that wasn’t enough to deal with, as a leader you’re the person everyone else in the organisation looks to for guidance, problem-solving and reassurance.
Voltaire, and later Spiderman’s Uncle, weren’t wrong when they said “With great power comes great responsibility”.
How Stress Affects You And Your Business
Stress makes you unable to perform to your full potential. It affects how you feel physically, mentally and your behaviour. When stressed it’s difficult to concentrate fully, you struggle to make decisions that would usually be easy, and become forgetful. Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what it was you were going to do.?
It’s frustrating and, you’ve guessed it, stressful.
Your fight or flight response is your body’s natural reaction to stressors. It releases hormones that allow you to react in a certain way to protect yourself from perceived danger. In this instance, acute stress is a good thing. Your hearts beat faster, blood pressure increases and you breathe quicker – ready to fight the attacker or run away from danger.
However, being in a constant state of chronic long term stress may cause you to become stuck in fight/flight mode. This can leave you feeling on a constant jittery verge of worry which may lead to overwhelming exhaustion and even anxiety.
Stress may cause you to become irritable and snappy with those around you. It makes you tired and you might find yourself unable to focus and more likely to react negatively. You’re expected to lead by example as the boss. If your workforce senses that you’re stressed and not performing as expected they will more than likely become stressed themselves and overall performance will decrease.
Small Changes Make A Big Difference In Reducing Stress
Managing stress doesn’t have to be stressful.
You don’t have to make drastic life-changing steps in order to reduce stress. As a performance coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners, helping them to increase productivity, improve focus and – you guessed it – reduce stress.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to tip the balance when it comes to stress. Just a few simple strategies can have a big impact…
Meditation trains your mind to become a calmer and less reactive space.
Meditation helps to reduce stress by giving you the time to reprogram your brain to recognise and react to stressful events in a different way. It helps you to manage stress in a healthier way by retraining the brain pathways through positive thought and giving your “conscious” brain a break.
You may be thinking that meditation takes a long time. How do you possibly have the time to meditate when you’re trying to run a successful business? How do you even start to teach yourself about meditation?
The truth is that you don’t need to be an expert in meditation to meditate. There’s an App for that! In fact, there are lots of apps, podcasts and online tutorials which will guide you step by step through meditation.
And you don’t have to be good at it either! Meditation is a practice. Something you do every day to progress and become better.
Just 10 minutes of meditation a day will give you the headspace required to reduce stress by becoming more mindful, clear-headed and happier.
Water reduces stress. It is a scientifically proven fact.
Your brain is made up of about 75% water. Think of it like a bath sponge. When it dries out it loses its functionality becoming hard and shrivelled. Add water and it becomes absorbent and spongy again, able to perform the task at hand.
Next time you feel the niggle of a headache ask yourself when you last had a drink? Imagine that sponge inside your head drying out and top up its water levels by reaching for a drink.
Being dehydrated also increases the cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone. More stress hormones equal more stress. Stressful isn’t it?
It’s not hard to keep hydrated and reduce stress. Make sure you have a water bottle handy and keep it topped up throughout the day.
Exercise? Who has the time or energy to exercise when you’re a busy business owner?
When it comes to exercise there are loads of excuses not to do it. But in reality, you can all exercise in some way to reduce stress and feel better in yourself. You don’t have to join an expensive gym and pound a treadmill for hours on end every day of the week whilst sweating out that carefully remembered water in order to exercise.
But if that is your bag then go for it.
Doing some type of physical activity for around 15 minutes a day has great benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Everyone can find time and a style of exercise that fits into everyday life. You can get up and walk around your office space whilst on a mobile call, get outdoors for a walk during your lunch break, invest in an under-desk pedal bike etc. The important thing is that you raise your heart rate.
When exercise gets your heart pumping, it fuels oxygen supplies to your vital organs and gives them a boost. Feel-good hormones called endorphins are released during exercise which help to relieve tension, anxiety and stress.
In fact, exercise is probably the most effective way to reduce stress, so if you’re only going to do one thing, exercise should be it!
Putting dirty fuel or the wrong type into a car affects its performance so you don’t do it.
It’s the same theory that should be applied when you decide what to eat and drink. What you fuel your bodies with directly affects the way you feel and how you perform.
Stress causes an increase in your blood sugar levels which are closely linked to your adrenal gland function and your fight/flight response as previously mentioned. When you’re stressed you can help your body to stabilise the amount of sugar in your blood by choosing a balanced and healthy diet of mostly whole, natural foods.
When you’re stressed your body has a greater need for protein as proteins help to slow the release of blood sugars into the body.
My top tip is to always have a snack pack of nuts or a bottle of protein water in your desk drawer, briefcase or laptop bag for a quick fix of stress-reducing protein.
We’re raised to express gratitude towards others. One of your fundamental life lessons as a child is the art of saying please and thank you for the things you want or are given. Being thanked makes you feel worthwhile and appreciated.
But gratitude isn’t only good for others, it’s good for you too.
Research has shown that practising daily gratitude directly increases happiness and positive mood and reduces stress.
There are times in business when you’ll feel your stress levels rising because of a mistake, poor performance, or even rapid growth. In these instances, it’s easy to get caught in a whirlwind of stress.
To reduce this stress try to take a breath (meditation in a second) and focus your attention on what’s gone right and be thankful.
Be thankful for your successes, your family, your food, your home or the little bird you saw sitting on the fence outside – it doesn’t matter!
What matters is that you focus your mind and your emotions on gratitude. Because what we focus on is what we bring into our lives.
As well as being thankful to others it’s just as important that you thank yourself for your own personal achievements. Take time to acknowledge your own personal successes. By building a gratitude habit you’ll find yourself feeling less stressed, happier and calmer.
Don’t Stress About Stress
Having a simple stress strategy in place, and by just implementing one or two of these stress-relieving techniques, will help to reduce your stress levels so you can maintain focus and performance.
Be mindful of managing and caring for your mind. Meditate to clear up brain space, eat and drink the right things regularly, get moving and remember you have a lot to be thankful for.
Need a little help?
Life as a business owner can be lonely. If you’re struggling with stress, you don’t have to suffer alone. The Evolve Network is a community of like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs dedicated to achieving success.
Until next time…make it happen.