The 5 Stress Management Strategies Every Business Owner Needs To Know
By Rachael Taylor
As a business owner, you're no stranger to feeling stressed or having people tell you that you should manage your stress better. Thinking about how stressed you are probably adds to it! Let's stop the spiral now, shall we?
There are countless ways to practice managing your stress and an endless list of strategies you could apply to your life. How do you pick one that will work for you? More importantly, where are you supposed to find the time to add this new habit into your daily routine?
My stress management strategy has a different approach and shortens the ever growing list of "to-do's" when it comes to managing stress.
I simplify my life wherever I can, so it made sense to develop an easy to remember stress management system that complimented my work flow and increased my creativity.
That's when I developed P.I.V.O.T. - 5 simple strategies that easily incorporate into my daily and weekly habits to keep my stress levels low and my happiness and productivity high.
Out Loud Affirmations
Taking a Schedule Survey
By following P.I.V.O.T. I can easily manage my stress without adding to my list of tasks - these are simple strategies that you can incorporate into your day and business.
P is for Proper Breathing
It starts with breathing properly, that means retraining how you connect with your breath so your body feels refreshed with each inhale and exhale. Many of us hold or shorten our breath when we concentrate, this can lead to keeping tension within the body and tightening our muscles and fascia. You know those knots you have in your neck, shoulders and back? Breathing properly can help release those side effects of stress because it relaxes the muscles instead of causing further tension.
What exactly is breathing properly? It means to take full inhales through the nose and exhales throughout the nose or mouth. This breathing pattern needs to be deep enough that you feel your body rise and lower as you do it. Your inhale should rise all the way from the bottom of your stomach and fill your lungs within your chest before it is released. This is something that you can train yourself to do throughout your day to reduce your stress and sharpen your focus on the task in front of you.
Create calendar alerts or use a smart watch to remind you to practice breathing while you are working or even commuting to work. The more you practice, the easier it will be to remember, the deeper your breathing will become and you’ll reap better results.
Breathing this way actually signals your mind that it's time to relax and calm down. It switches you over to a different nervous system that takes you out of the "fight or flight" mode that stress causes us to live in.
By living in a calmer state through activating proper breathing, you can re-center your body and more effectively funnel energy into whatever you're working on.
I is for Internal Rest
This can be the trickiest one for business owners, especially when you're starting out - the feeling of "not doing enough" has badgered all of us at some point, sometimes bringing us to tears of frustration, exhaustion and low self-esteem. Finding internal rest means that when you are not working, you are actually not working. In other words, you're not thinking about "all the things" you did, need to do, are going to do or should have done for your business. It means letting your mind not work as well and giving it something else to focus on.
I'm incredibly passionate about what I do, I work very hard on my business and I love that I help people improve their lives. This passion can tempt me to never stop working simply because I absolutely love what I do, but I've found that it's an imbalance and not sustainable.
The stress of never allowing your mind to wander off and "chill" will harm your health and your business in the long run.
Everyone's balance is different and it takes experimenting to figure out how much down time you need to feel refreshed. I encourage you to not compare yourself to other people in this one, everyone is different and comparison will only make you feel like you're not living up to an invisible, self-imposed standard.
For me, I personally need two full days off to feel refreshed. While I practice writing nearly every day, on my days off I don't write content for my business but spend time reflecting on whatever comes to mind in that moment.
You may find that creating internal rest is challenging because your mind is used to being solely focused on your business 24/7, but I know you can start to take small steps in the direction of better stress management.
After all, it helps your business in the long run to have you at your best, that includes your mind being well rounded and allowed time to refresh, reset and recharge.
V is for Varied Movement
Incorporating movement into every day is a big part of staying healthy, boosting creativity, increasing energy and of course reducing stress. This isn't the part of the story where I tell you that you need to exercise for 30 minutes a day, or else. Instead, this is where I want to let you know you're off the hook for creating a rigid, scheduled exercise routine. I've found that taking the pressure off of creating structure and limits around exercise helps me move more often.
It has helped me remove the stress around making time to move every day and completely eliminated guilt that used surround me of "I didn't do enough" when it comes to exercise.
Before I start my week, I give my calendar a general look to see what my routine will look like. Based on that, I block out time with a calendar alert to move for the 5 days that week.
As with many business owner, my week and days change and shift as I go - people reschedule, projects take longer (or shorter) or a personal emergency remolds my time.
Therefore, I plan out 5 days but I still take it one day at a time. I practice discipline and respect of my calendar and stop working when it tells me, just like I would for a client call. Treat yourself as nice as you treat your customers and making time for movement will be easier than you can imagine.
Once in the gym, I do what my body is telling me it feels like doing - sometimes that's walking on the treadmill, sometimes it is a full weight lifting routine, other times it's more stretch and Pilates focused.
I don't put requirements on what my body needs to do that day or for how long it needs to be - it's more important to create the habit of moving every single day than fighting to stick to a routine that is inconsistent or choppy.
Movement should be like brushing our teeth or checking our email - it's not something extra we have to do, but is a vital part of being healthy, successfully managing stress and not sacrificing yourself for your business.
O is for Out Loud Affirmation
Our minds are incredibly powerful and affect how we think about and treat ourselves. A negative mind can be feel like you're running an uphill marathon every day, draining, tiring and harder than it needs to be. Pay attention to what negative thoughts keep popping up in your day. Are they about you? Your abilities? The potential of your business? The stress of a negative mind creates a toxic environment within your mind (and even your body) that is almost like managing a business with the flu.
The easiest way to manage mental stress and stop a negative mind from holding us back from our potential, is to create affirmations and say them out loud.
An affirmation is simply saying the opposite of a negative thought - it encourages you instead of pulling you down. I use affirmations every day, starting before I even put my feet on the ground in the morning. The more I say, the faster I overcome negative thoughts and free my mind to not be stressed and packed with clutter.
However, this isn't something I only do in the morning. It is a constant mindset shift I practice just like breathing deeply throughout the day.
I know you have big goals too - you have dreams you're reaching for and your business is a part of getting there. You'll get there much faster unencumbered by negativity, inner criticism and limiting beliefs.
It's stressful to try and work through a negative mind because its sole job is to constantly remind you why what you're doing is either wrong, scary or can't be accomplished.
Affirmations are a game-changer in managing it and can reset your mind to eliminate stress from negativity by never giving into it in the first place.
T is for Taking a Schedule Survey
Stress can come one very obvious source that is often overlooked - our schedules. Being addicted to busyness is a common problem for many people, especially business owners. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that you shouldn't do all that you need to in order to build and maintain a successful business and the lifestyle you wanted. What I'm saying is, there may be things that you do on an hourly, daily or weekly basis that are creating stress and not giving you the returns you need to make it an excellent use of your time.
Our time is precious and limited as people and even more so as business owners - every day is an opportunity to learn more, grow more, create more interest, generate more profits, increase influence and take one more step towards our goal.
Given that, looking over what we do to see what's working in our favor will help eliminate bad habits and busyness tasks - those are a huge source of stress and general annoyance.
For instance, setting a simple boundary around how often you check email will not only create much needed space in your day, but also clearly define a customer's expectation on when they'll hear back from you - eliminating stress, confusion and frustration for both parties.
If you find that there are many things that you do that fall under the category of busyness - in other words, something that takes up your time but doesn't give you a positive return - look at how you can streamline or batch these tasks. You may find that eliminating them completely is the way to go - only you can decide what's working in your business and what's currently causing you stress.
If your body always feel stressed, it will decrease your productivity, energy levels and diminish your overall quality of life (including sleep). If those reasons aren't motivating enough, stress unchecked can cause physical and emotional pain, fatigue, and burn out.
As a business owner, you will have stress. There will be moments within your business (and life) that will create a stressful environment - it's unavoidable - but how you choose to let it affect you is a choice. If you want help in this area, we can get started right away - learn how here.
Use these 5 strategies to help you build better habits that will serve you and your business in the long run. You are the heart of your business and it needs you at your best - energetic, happy, healthy, creative and refreshed.
Remember, being an entrepreneur is a big adventure with limitless possibilities and potential but it requires you to grow, be bold and pull on courage to stand up to what’s in your way. Growing to a new level may not be comfortable, but it’s always worth it.
You have this dream for a reason and it’s the perfect time for you to chase it! Enjoy the journey and trust the process.
From one entrepreneur to another…