Strategies for Managing Stress as an Entrepreneur
If you are an entrepreneur, you are most likely used to the word stress. Perhaps it is even one of the defining words of your working life. If you are managing your own business, you might envy the entrepreneurs who seemingly have it all and who don’t show any signs of stress at any point. It isn’t that successful entrepreneurs never feel stress, but they are better at coping with it. Interestingly, most successful entrepreneurs have very similar coping strategies developed to ensure they keep stress at bay. Stress management requires you to focus on maintaining a healthier body, a more positive mind and to keep the right focus on your work life. Here is a look at the most common strategies successful entrepreneurs use in order to combat stress.
In this article, we explore 1) why managing stress as entrepreneur is important, 2) strategies for managing stress as an entrepreneur including anti-stress strategies for your body, mind, and your workday, and 3) handling stress like a professional.
WHY MANAGING STRESS AS AN ENTREPRENEUR IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU?
The modern lifestyle is undoubtedly going to get you stressed at some point. While little levels of stress won’t be anything but a normal occurrence, you don’t want to go through your life feeling stressed all the time.
What happens in your body when you are stressed?
The best way to understand the negative impacts of stress is essentially by understanding what being stressed actually means.
Your brain will undergo both chemical and physical changes when you are under stress. There are certain chemicals, including neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which start to increase in your brain. These ‘fight or flight’ hormones are released by the adrenal glands, and it is these chemicals that cause the different physical and emotional reactions.
The most common effects, caused by the influx of hormones like adrenalin and the different chemicals, include the following:
- Rapid heart rate
- Higher blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
The negative effects of stress on your health
As the video above shows, your body starts to change immediately as you become stressed. Although a short period of stress won’t be anything too uncommon or troubling, the effects can have a huge impact on your health in the long-term.
Furthermore, the problem with prolonged stress is that you might not even notice anymore that you are stressed. If you are often stressed, your body will start accumulating to it slowly. But this doesn’t mean your body is tolerating stress better, as your nervous system still has to deal with an overload of chemicals and hormones.
Studies have shown that prolonged levels of stress can lead to the development of other problems. These can include anything from minor problems like a constant flu to irritating stomach ulcers. But research has also shown more serious problems like strokes and heart diseases have a link to unmanaged stress.
The negative effects of stress on your mind
But the above physical effects aren’t the only reason you should manage stress. Long periods of stress can even have a huge negative impact on your mind – something that can harm your business ventures.
If your body is in a constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, you can develop a number of mental and emotional disorders like depression and panic attacks. Even if you don’t feel particularly bad, your mind might not be working to its maximum capacity.
Unmanaged stress can make it difficult to focus or think things through properly – all of which can lead to bad business decision and hinder your productivity. The more stressed you get, the more frustrated and impatient you might feel, which in turn can cause even more stress.
STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING STRESS AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
1) Anti-stress strategies for your body
When successful entrepreneurs talk about managing stress, the most common theme behind their strategies is exercise. Whether it is a daily jog in the morning or weekend spent playing golf, successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of exercise.
The reason exercise is so effective in reducing stress is down to the release of endorphins. These so-called happy hormones will help deplete the stress hormones, as your body is filled with mood-enhancing chemical instead.
The great thing about endorphins is how they are released in the body by any type of physical activity. All you need to do is find the sport you like the most.
Regular exercise helps control stress
Regular exercise can help your stress management in two different ways.
First, it is the positive physical impact on your body. If you exercise regularly, you’ll have lower blood pressure, a healthier heart and you’re more likely to have a healthier body weight, which will help ensure you don’t develop a lot of common medical problems such as diabetes.
You’ll also be able to boost your immune system, meaning you are less likely to need time off from your work, and your body will generally be more stronger to stand the occasional long days at work.
But regular exercise isn’t just beneficial to your body. In fact, recent studies have shown, your mental strength will also improve if you exercise regularly.
A fixed exercise routine can help you achieve all of the following benefits:
- Improved concentration
- Ability to learn new information faster
- Sharper memory
- Improved creativity levels
- Lower levels of stress
A Leeds Metropolitan University study found in 2005 that employees who had access to a company gym had better experiences at work than employees who didn’t. Not only were the workers who visited the gym more productive and efficient with time management, but also they saw improvements in their interactions with the colleagues.
The benefits of yoga
Even though the most important thing is to find some form of exercise, many entrepreneurs have spoken highly of adding yoga to their life. Yoga is especially good for combating stress, as it helps you learn more about the right breathing technique as well as concentrate more.
Yoga is the perfect form of exercise for busy entrepreneurs, as you don’t need many things in order to practice it. If you have an office with at least a bit of space, you can buy a yoga mat and do a quick 30-minute yoga practice in the middle of your work day.
Furthermore, yoga is a great workout because it affects your whole body as well as the mind. Studies have found that one of the ways in which yoga can be beneficial to controlling stress its ability improve your nervous system. In one study, six weeks of hatha yoga increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system – the system that helps you feel calm – of the subjects.
Consider team sports with your colleagues
Although individual forms of exercise can be a great way to manage stress, you could benefit even more from team sports. If you add regular team sports to your exercise routine, either with friends or your work colleagues, you can enjoy the additional benefit of being part of the group.
This could be especially important for entrepreneurs who typically spend their workdays on their own. Team sports such as basketball or ice hockey can give you that sense of belonging and de-stressing with other people.
2) Anti-stress strategies for your mind
As well as adding regular exercise to their routine, successful entrepreneurs also use different strategies to keep their mind upbeat and ready for anything. If you don’t have a healthy outlook on your life, your work and your ability to cope, then you’ll experience stress more often.
Furthermore, as stress can damage your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health, it is important to have strategies to cope with the occasional feeling of stress and frustration.
Appreciating what you have
How often do you take the time to stop and list all the things that are good in your life? We often are so focused on the negative aspects of our lives that we forget to be thankful for the things that are good.
It’s important to remind yourself of the good things when you are feeling worn out and stressed. If you are having a bad day and you feel tired, simply jot down the positive things in your life to remind yourself that things aren’t that bad.
In fact, it might sound grim but studies have found that awareness of your mortality can help you feel more positive. When it all seems stressful and difficult, it can be helpful to remind yourself that things could be worse. Being alive is a magnificent gift, and you don’t want to waste it by being negative all the time.
Be a self-motivator
Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be a lonely thing to do and therefore it is essential to find ways to motivate yourself. Although you want to surround yourself with friends and family who can lift your spirits, it’s important to be able to boost your own motivation.
You want to remind yourself of the goals you are trying to achieve. Have a clear plan and list of things you want to achieve. If you start feeling like you’re not getting closer to your dreams, find what is holding you back.
If getting through the day becomes difficult, think of rewards that can motivate you. Perhaps it is a movie session with friends or a dinner with your spouse. Even listening to your favorite song before work can help you get into the right mindset.
Learn to disconnect
It is essential that you know how to switch off your thoughts from work. As an entrepreneur, this will take a lot more effort, as you are practically tied to your business 24/7.
You can also find some amazing meditation videos on YouTube, as well as download apps to your phone to get started.
Maintaining a positive outlook
Overall, you want to try to find a more positive outlook on life. If you often find yourself responding in a negative manner, you need to try to create a more positive attitude.
A simple way to do this is just by smiling a lot more. One of the earliest psychological experiments has found that simply forcing your face into a smiling position will start releasing positive hormones in your body and put you in a better mood.
On top of this, you need to start taking more responsibility for your actions. If think you go wrong, don’t start looking for excuses or blaming others for the failure. Instead, try to think what was the reason for the failure and how you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
You don’t want to think negatively about yourself or the work you do. As mentioned above, you need to appreciate what you have and the skills you have.
3) Anti-stress strategies for the workday
Successful entrepreneurs also know that you need to tackle problems at work in order to keep stress at bay. It is important to learn coping strategies that’ll make the workday a little less stressful and ensure you focus on the right aspect of running your business.
Learning to say ‘no’
For many entrepreneurs, learning to say ‘no’ will the hardest thing to do. When you are running your business, it seems obvious that you should accept most of the requests you get. But saying ‘yes’ to everything will just overwhelm your schedule.
Taking on every job you are offered is also not a healthy business tactic. The truth is that some jobs are going to be better for you, either in simply monetary terms or in terms of the doors they open for you in the future. It is important to learn to understand that saying ‘no’ can sometimes be more beneficial to your business.
One of the most successful entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs, used to say that he is as proud of the things he said ‘no’ to, as he is about the things he did. You need to streamline your focus and sometimes that means saying ‘no’.
Focusing on progress, not perfection
Successful entrepreneurs also understand that you won’t ever create the perfect business. Perfection isn’t as important as progress. As long as you are improving as an entrepreneur, you are moving to the right direction.
If you are constantly stressed about being perfect, you’ll burn yourself very quickly. You need to try your best at all times, but you shouldn’t set impossible or artificial limits to your business.
You’ll also need to learn to embrace failure. Being an entrepreneur will inevitably mean that somewhere along the line you’ll make mistakes, and your ventures might turn out wrong – business mogul Richard Branson, for example, has always been open about his past failures. The key is to learn from your mistakes and progress forward.
Overall, you should focus on creating a routine for yourself. Routines give more structure to your life and structure is a great way to reduce stress. You don’t need to aim for a minute-schedule, as this could just overwhelm you, but you should have a clear aim in your day and in the work you do.
Set yourself goals for the day or for the week. The 80/20 rule is a great one to use at work to reduce stress. The Pareto rule simply means that 80% of your results come from just 20% of inputs.
Your business, for instance, is likely to have those key core clients that provide the most of your revenue. Focusing on the core 20% of tasks, you’ll be able to get the most done.
Build your routine on this 80/20 principle. It’ll help you stay focused during the workday and mean you’ll stop worrying even if you don’t complete all of your tasks.
Having a Plan
You might be thinking that the above ideas seem all great, but how do you find the time? When it comes to exercise, one of the most common reason people skip the gym is because they say they don’t have the time. But as studies have shown, people are in fact more productive when they do take the time for a quick workout than when they skip it.
Make sure you surround yourself with routines and positive thoughts. If you find yourself stressed or in a mindset full of negative thoughts, you want to have a detailed plan in place to snap out of the thinking. This could be a playlist that always helps you feel more motivated or a special meditation tape that helps you to relax.
Furthermore, create a concrete plan for achieving your dreams. Focus on reaching it in smaller steps and revisit your goals regularly to ensure you are on the right track. Remember that it is OK to dream big and to change even your goals!
HANDLING STRESS LIKE A PROFESSIONAL
Successful entrepreneurs are able to succeed because they are able to deal with stress. Studies have consistently shown that people who feel less stressed are able to succeed in their personal as well as career goals because they implement the above strategies – they take good care of their body, mind, and their work routines.
Stress isn’t always a bad thing and sometimes it can help you perform better under difficult circumstances. But long-term stress can have devastating consequences for your health and damage your productivity.
The above strategies are what differentiate successful entrepreneurs from entrepreneurs. If you want to boost your quality of life, improve your career prospects and enjoy your work and life more, try to add some of the strategies to your own life.