Over the last few years, I have witnessed time and again that a healthy, motivated business owner is far more likely to build a successful business than someone who is stressed, overwhelmed and neglecting their own personal wellbeing. Why? There’s an absolute limit (even for the superstars amongst you) as to how much you can do / achieve / output without adversely affecting yourself, and in turn, your business… Remember the concept from high-school of the Law of Diminishing Returns? This applies to us as Individuals just as much as it applies to the economics of production and manufacture. You cannot control every outcome in your business simply by increasing the effort and time you commit to it. In fact this may have the opposite effect.
Before we look at some practical steps to help you reduce stress and become a happier more productive business owner, let's start by gauging your levels of stress and personal wellbeing:
This simple exercise will help you gauge where you are right now:
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 as difficult and 10 as very easy, how often do you find it difficult to relax or unwind after a busy workday?
How would you rate your ability to manage and prioritise your workload effectively, from 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent)?
When it comes to work-related challenges, how frequently do you experience a sense of overwhelm or helplessness, with 1 being seldom and 10 being often?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how often do you notice physical symptoms of stress, such as tension, headaches, or trouble sleeping?
How do you rate your work-life balance, with 1 being severely skewed towards work and 10 being a perfect balance between work and personal life?
How satisfied are you with your current level of social support and connections, with 1 being very dissatisfied and 10 indicating very satisfied?
When facing setbacks or challenges in your business, how often do you experience high levels of anxiety or worry, from 1 (rarely) to 10 (frequently)?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 as never and 10 as often) how often do you engage in relaxation or stress-reduction activities outside of work, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies?
How well do you feel you can communicate your concerns or stressors to colleagues, employees, or partners, from 1 (very poorly) to 10 (very well)?
When considering your overall mental and emotional state, how would you rate your current sense of calm and contentment, with 1 being extremely stressed and 10 being completely at ease?
These questions serve purely as a self-assessment tool to help you gain some insight and identify areas that may require attention or improvement. A score of 50 or below definitely requires immediate action though - Just saying!
So - what are some practical things you can implement easily into your day that will reduce your stress?
Start each day with a moment of self-care. Whether it's meditation, a short walk, or a calming cup of tea, this ritual will set a positive tone for your day. There’s a great Yoga Nidra meditation that you can YouTube that takes only 10 minutes and is a fantastic way to start the day. Ensuring we don’t just jump out of bed and start answering the emails that have com in overnight. I personally have a self-care ritual that I practice every night before bed and every morning when I wake. It ensures I sleep well, and that no matter challenges the day may hold, I have taken care of myself first.
Set Clear Boundaries
Establish boundaries between work and personal life. Designate specific work hours and stick to them to maintain a healthy balance. Difficult right? When our emails sync across every device from our phones to iPads to watches. Turn them off. Use the Do Not Disturb functions and… this is the more challenging part… Practice self control.
Delegate and Outsource
Don't try to do it all alone. Delegate tasks that are outside your expertise or hire professionals to lighten your workload.
Physical activity releases endorphins, reducing stress and boosting motivation. Find an exercise routine that works for you and stick to it. Even if this is twenty sit-ups, twenty dips and twenty lunges in your hotel room of a morning… No excuses.
Connect with a Support Network
Lean on your family, friends, or business mentors for support. Sharing your challenges and successes with others can be incredibly therapeutic. The key here is sharing. Many of us have a group of people around us who would happily lend assistance, yet we are reticent to ask for it. Out of pride / not wanting to be a burden / embarrassment etc. But that’s the thing, a relationship never deepens if you never become vulnerable. Choose your circle wisely and lean in :)
Engage in mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, to stay present and reduce anxiety. My therapist (of course I have one!) taught me a box breathing technique that has been invaluable in stressful situations. - from calming myself before a presentation, to getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. This box breathing follows an In for Four, Hold for Four and Out for Eight pattern - and it’s a game-changer! Remember that there are also free professional counselling services for business owners - such as New Access.
Use effective time management techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritise tasks and increase productivity. Or - get a professional in to assist you with this. Last year I ran a great time management workshop with Alexis Zahner of Human Leaders - look her up!
Invest time in activities that bring you joy and relaxation outside of work. Hobbies are a great way to reduce stress and boost creativity.
And I hear you saying “But Who Has Time???” Please refer to item 7 above :P
Seek Professional Help
If stress and wellbeing issues persist, don't hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide valuable strategies and support. And remember - there are free professional counselling services available to business owners such as New Access.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard the saying “You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup” a few too many times lately. I prefer “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” as an incentive to dial the stressors back a little :P. Remember - you are not your business. Take time to build your identity as a healthy individual outside of the professional arena - and make time to ENJOY life this week. You'll be surprised at how stepping back puts everything into perspective.
You’ve got this!