It feels good to play the hero.
Using the ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ philosophy to pretend we’re bulletproof and that we only need to keep ‘hustling’ all available hours for just a few more years until we can sell the business and wallow in piles of cash.
In fact psychologists now recognise a sizeable and growing addiction to ‘busyness’ that business owners are particularly prone to with their changeable schedules and hunger for results.
Stress can be a friend to business owners. It can be motivating, healthy force but only in short doses. Over protracted periods of time stress can cause a host of issues such as:
- Mental Fatigue
- Poor Decision-Making
- Anxiety and depression
- Reduced Immune System
- Increased aging
- + lots more
If we take simple steps to reduce and better manage stress in our working lives (and help our employees do the same) we’ll be rewarded with more productivity, job satisfaction and better performance all round.
Here are 7 simple ways to make yourself stress-proof:
- Schedule Regular Recovery Time
Make sure that you have a few slots of recovery time built into your daily schedule and longer periods every few months.
If you’re someone who lives or dies by your diary then use it to your advantage and mark out short slots of time where you either completely rest or engage in a mindless, restful activity such as listening to music, going for a quick walk, flicking through a non-business related book, painting, yoga, deep breathing etc.
This will help to build your resilience over the long term. It’s not how much stress you have, it’s how well you deal with and how high your stress threshold is.
2.) Practice Mindfulness
One activity to start putting into your schedule is mindfulness. From it’s eastern beginnings with a background in formal meditation, mindfulness is now recognised by psychologists and mental health professionals as a useful, valid and proven tool to help with lowering stress, problematic emotions and dealing with addictions as well as building overall resilience.
The most basic way to practise mindfulness is to sit in an upright yet relaxed posture, close your eyes or relax your gaze and just notice what arises. Taking care not to get caught in your inner world of images and internal dialogue and not getting caught in judgements or emotions. Simply say to yourself ‘Now I notice…’
‘Now I notice my breathing get lighter… now I notice my left hand itch… now I notice i’m feeling restless…now I notice my foot twitch…. Etc’
After some repeated practise you will find it easier to relax, disengage from problematic thoughts and behavior and make better choices.
3.) Contribute outside of your business
One problem some business owners can have is getting too attached to their business. It’s obviously a good thing to care about what you do and dedicate your time, energy and money to something you enjoy and that will add to your future but it is a problem if you’re putting all your efforts into one endeavor, particularly if your identity, self-esteem and self-worth is tied up in it.
Make sure that you have hobbies, friends and ways you can contribute outside of the business arena. Join a book club, volunteer for a charity on the weekend, mentor an up and comer. Just make sure that the business isn’t your sole focus.
4.) Get Enough Sleep
My colleague Richard Morcombe wrote a great article for our Success Club Magazine on the benefits of sleep. Some of the pointers to take away are:
- Buy and read the Richard Wiseman book ‘Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep.’
- Use an online sleep calculator to find out when is optimal to go to bed based on when you want to wake up and your body’s sleep cycles
To join our fantastic Success Club just click the link:
5.) Get Sufficient Exercise
Exercise boosts the feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins and because of the focused and rhythmic nature of most forms of aerobic exercise, it can also act as a sort of mindfulness practise as mentioned in the second point above.
Exercise can also help to toughen us up mentally by setting small, progressive challenges that we can use to build up our self-belief and self-efficacy.
6.) Mind Your Language
The language we use has a big impact on the way we feel and the behaviours we demonstrate. Try to avoid labelling your emotions or problems in ways that make them seem bigger and scarier than they actually are.
When I worked in hypnotherapy I would often ask clients who suffered from anxiety issues to re-label their feelings with the silliest words they could imagine. So instead of ‘anxious’ they would say ‘kumquat’ and instead of ‘fear’ they would say ‘codswallop.’ Everyone who tried this out found that it was almost impossible to hang onto the original feeling simply by a simple switch of vocabulary.
If you think it will be inappropriate to do a dramatic change then simply dull down your initial label. Instead of ‘overwhelmed’ use ‘a little stretched.’ Instead of ‘frustrated’ use ‘involved’ or whatever works for you. Don’t deny your feelings but also don’t give them more weight than they deserve.
7.) Don’t ‘catch’ stress
We are often easily influenced by the people around us, especially when we work closely in teams. If someone in that team is easily stressed and doesn’t manage it well then make sure that you inoculate yourself against their potentially damaging influence.
You can do this by any of the means previously mentioned or simply by not letting their problems or their perceptions become yours. Find the positive intention behind their grievance and try and navigate them towards that. “Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming to give a presentation with just 3 days notice, it’s a good thing that you’re so concerned, that means you’ll be able to predict anything that could go wrong and plan to prevent it ahead of time.”
Those are my top 7 ways to become stress-proof. If you have any good tips that work for you then please let me know in the comments…