You may consider yourself cool, calm and collected. But if you’re a small business owner, you know stress. And you know it well.
Studies have shown that running a small business is more stressful than anything else in a small business owner’s life. In fact, small business owners reported in a Bank of America survey a couple of years ago that maintaining a small business causes twice as much stress as a healthy relationship with a spouse, nearly three times as much as raising children and more than four times as much as managing personal finances! Not only that, owners reported that they let other parts of their lives—things that would no doubt provide some stress relief like free time and exercise—fall by the wayside because of business.
Social scientists say that there’s good stress and bad stress. Good stress can help us do more, improve our performances and even keep us safe. But bad stress—or distress—crosses the line and can have devastating effects if left untended. Based on what business owners report, many have left good-stress territory and have ventured into distress-land. Owners’ health, relationships and even businesses often show the effects of distress long before the business owner realizes what’s happening and takes back control of the reins. If left unchecked, stress can cause turnover, financial problems, burnout and worse.
So, why are business owners some of the most stressed-out people in the business world, if not the country or even on the planet? Small Business Chron contributor Linda Ray has gathered information on several of the chief causes of business owner stress. Among them:
Lack of control, from the weather to rising prices to unpredictable employees
Not recognizing (or ignoring) the signs of mounting stress, like chronic headaches, low energy, trouble sleeping
Bad reactions—fits of rage or drinking heavily—that only add to the stress
Counterproductive attitudes that can raise stress levels, including not “letting go” of what you can’t control or not showing appreciation when things go well
Fortunately for business owners, there are many different ways, even small ones, to start bringing down your stress levels and reclaiming control of your life, like these tips on marketingeye.org. The point is, wherever you happen to be on the stress continuum, don’t wait. Begin now, and get help with it if you need to. In the near-term, though, there are steps you can take. A lot of this advice is the common sense you’ve been hearing for years. But these remedies really will help:
Don’t skimp on sleep
Try to eat healthily—easy on the carbs and heavy foods, but keep lots of fruits, vegetables and lean protein
Stay hydrated—drink plenty of water
Cut back on caffeine, soda and alcohol
Get in a little exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk
Meditate. Start by following your breathing for five minutes
Be protective of your free time
Laugh it up—and feel all those calming endorphins!
In the long run, understanding your stress helps your ability to manage it. Everyone has personal stressors. Learn what yours are. Then think about where and how you typically encounter those stressors and have a plan for how you’re going to handle them before they trigger your stress responses. Your business and your life depend on it!
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What are your biggest stressors as a business owner? Do you have ways of actively managing them?