Judy Sahay

Thought Leaders & Game Changers

Step back to leap forward. 5 ways to deal with stress when running a small business.

How to deal with stress.

How to deal with stress.

No one wants to go grey early, but if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and are in the throes of developing a new business, it’s likely your stress levels have increased. It’s entirely understandable, as starting a business can rank up there with moving house and divorce as some of the most stressful experiences we can undertake in our lives. But there are ways you can combat the stress, take a step back, and really get to the root of the problems at hand. In the end, whilst running a business might be your dream, it isn’t worth sacrificing your emotional health and wellbeing.

  1. Just breathe

Often, one of the quickest ways to calm yourself in a stressful situation is just by stepping back and taking a breath. People suffering from anxiety have been using breathing exercises to calm themselves for years, and if you can feel yourself getting overwhelmed at work, you might want to follow their example. Whilst it won’t solve the problems at hand, it will clear your head and make you feel a lot calmer and more prepared to tackle the situation that is causing you stress.

If the stress is starting to build up, take a step away from the issue and try this easy breathing exercise to calm yourself and clear your mind:

  • Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath for a moment
  • Exhale slowly for 7 seconds
  • Repeat 3 times

It will take less than a minute for you to be able to centre yourself once more.

  1. Make a list

Once you are thinking clearly again, sit down and write a list of all the reasons you are stressed. This might sound like a sure-fire way to raise your blood pressure once more, but actually being able to see what you are dealing with will make wrapping your head around the situation a lot easier. Once you have written everything out, take a proper, critical look at the list and figure out what is simply out of your hands and therefore out of your control.

When running a business, it can seem like everything is your responsibility, but the truth is, you don’t have control over everything under the cosmos. If the solution to the problem is out of your hands, cross that concern off the list and move onto the next one. In all likelihood, you will at least have halved your list, and now have a realistic number of issues that you can actually handle. Letting go of the problems you have no control over will free up a lot of space in your mind to focus on the issues you can work out.

  1. Gain some perspective

Everyone’s problems are valid, so there’s no point in saying, “Someone out there has it worse than me.” Your stresses and your concerns matter to you, and therefore they are important. But if it feels like you are drowning under the weight of the negativity around your business, instead, take a look at all of the good things that are in your life. You have been fortunate enough to follow your dreams, you have been blessed enough financially that you were even able to start a business, something plenty of people are unable to do.

Otherwise, think of the happiness that surrounds your life outside of your business. You have your health, you have your friends, you have your family. These things will be here for you no matter your business woes, and it is important to remember than and not lose sight of the positives. After all, life is tough, and we all have to accept our share of bad along with the good. Just be thankful that you still have many good things in your life, and it will make the negatives seem a little less bad.

  1. Think positively

This is probably the most overused tip to reduce stress, but that’s because it works. Having a positive outlook on life is going to help you on so many levels, and will improve your life even outside your business. It can be hard to think positively during times of great stress, but if you start small, soon you can make sure your mindset is happy and forward-focused.

To start with, at the end of every day, write down three good things that happened that day. Keep the paper someplace safe, so when you start to feel stressed or sad, you can look back on all the good things that have happened to you. Doing this will shape your future outlook, and make it easier for you to think about the good rather than the bad.

If you continue to think negatively about things, your life will continue to respond negatively. Even the steps forward will look like steps back if you can’t think positively, and this will play havoc with every aspect of your life.

  1. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to step back

You gave it your best shot, but if running a business is really taking its toll on you, it is important to understand that there is no shame in taking a step back or calling it quits. Stress can have severe effects to your emotional, mental, and physical health, and it isn’t worth sacrificing yourself for the sake of your business. Understanding that you can step away from your business, either temporarily or permanently, will give you a lot of peace of mind.

With your thoughts reframed, you will be able to approach situations with far more rationality than before, and your mental wellbeing will thank you in return. Admitting that your business might be too much for you to handle on your own just means that you have a mature, rational approach to life, and that is going to get you a lot further than premature grey hairs and sleepless nights.

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