Being an entrepreneur is stressful.
A small amount of stress can actually be a good thing as it pushes you to work harder and propel your business forward. However, too much stress can take all the joy out of entrepreneurship, harm your health and hinder your productivity.
Studies show that people who suffer from prolonged stress experience a range of nasty side effects, including insomnia, low self-esteem and frequent colds or infections. Whilst it’s true that stress is part and parcel of entrepreneurship, there are plenty of realistic ways to manage it.
The first step towards reducing stress is lightening the load. Entrepreneurs often try to tackle everything themselves which is unrealistic and only leads to burnout. In order to achieve long-term success as a business owner, you have to know when to delegate.
Identify which tasks require your specific expertise and delegate those which your team members should be able to handle. If you’re a sole trader, you can always outsource certain tasks to freelancers or virtual assistants. This allows you to concentrate on growing your business and helps to preserve your creativity.
Adding another task to your to-do list might seem counter intuitive, but regular exercise is an incredibly effective stress buster. Richard Branson, for example, has stated that his commitment to health and fitness has played a vital role in his success.
Firstly, exercise releases endorphins which help to combat stress and fatigue. Better still, exercise improves cognitive function, strengthening your memory and sharpening your focus. This means that exercise can result in a boost in productivity, which may further reduce your stress levels. Essentially, it kicks off a positive cycle that can really make a difference when it comes to keeping stress under control.
You don’t have to run miles every day or spend hours in the gym. Even a small amount of daily exercise can be useful in managing stress. We are fortunate that our office is surrounded by beautiful countryside and lunchtime walks help manage our stress and improve productivity.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and is celebrated for its stress-busting benefits. It can be done anytime, anywhere but it’s best to set aside a designated time slot each morning or evening so that you don’t forget to do it.
Studies have shown that daily meditation is an effective way to treat stress and anxiety. Regular meditation also helps to increase your attention span and self-awareness, which can help you become an even better entrepreneur.
If you are not keen on meditation then try ten minutes of quiet contemplation instead.
4. Find a Hobby
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to let your whole life be consumed by your work but it’s important that you make an effort to maintain other interests. A fun hobby is a great way to unwind. Remember that not everything you do has to make you money.
Besides, relaxation is actually essential to creativity. Performing an activity just for fun triggers a release of dopamine in the brain, a feel-good hormone which stimulates the creative part of the brain and gets those good ideas flowing. Therefore, taking up a seemingly trivial hobby not only helps to combat stress, but may also benefit your business.
5. Take Regular Breaks
Many entrepreneurs are guilty of working solidly through the day, but did you know that neglecting to take breaks actually damages your productivity? If you struggle to remember when to press pause, try setting a timer on your phone to remind you to take a break every hour. Stepping outside for just five minutes can help to refresh your brain and allow you to gain a new perspective.
As an entrepreneur it’s important that you control your stress, rather than allowing you stress to control you. Whilst it’s tempting to neglect breaks and devote your entire life to running your business, this is a short-sighted approach that will only lead to burn out. Effective stress management is essential for the long-term health of your business so make sure you’re committed to keeping it under control.