Stress is an inevitable part of running a business. Despite its many rewards, it can be difficult to ignore the many pressures that come with an entire company resting on your shoulders. As your business grows and you bring on more employees, that sense of responsibility will only increase, leading to varying degrees of anxiety.
If you let stress consume you, it can hurt your productivity and eventually impact your bottom line. For that reason, it’s important to find coping mechanisms that allow you to worry less. You’ll then be able to focus on what needs to be done, which is growing your business. Here are a few tips for keeping your entrepreneurial anxiety in check.
1. Set goals and work toward them.
Anxiety often comes as a result of trying to accomplish everything at once. Instead, cut your larger goals into small, manageable chunks and work toward reaching each small milestone every day. Celebrate when you make significant progress toward a goal. Over time, you’ll learn to pay more attention to what you’ve accomplished rather than feeling daunted by the many things you have left to do.
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Experts recommend rewarding yourself as you reach certain milestones. That will give you something to look forward to in the near future, which will also keep you from looking past the milestone to what you’ll need to do next. Set aside time each month or quarter to review your long-term goals and update your progress on each of them. You’ll likely notice how much you’ve accomplished in the previous term and feel good about your momentum.
2. Outsource and automate.
Business owners often work long, tiring hours, whether they’re running a one-man operation or they have a full staff. Either way, it’s important to find ways to offload as many daily tasks as possible. The more routine the duty, the more likely someone else should handle it. If you can’t afford a salaried worker, consider a part-time entry-level worker or outsourcing to a freelancer.
In addition to human service providers, you can also use technology to free up time without sacrificing work output. Software can take over your invoicing and bookkeeping features, for instance, often without the errors that you might make when you’re multitasking or rushing to get to your next meeting.
3. Learn coping mechanisms.
“Mind over matter” may sound like jargon, but anxiety and stress really are under your control. Relaxation techniques can help you when stress is at its worst, with your mind racing and your body tense. You don’t have to take an hour or two to attend a class to practice relaxation. In fact, you can just lock yourself in your office for 15 minutes in the middle of the day and do a few exercises to center your mind.
For some, however, learning to relax is an art. Look for meditation classes or mindfulness-based yoga courses near you. You’ll be able to take the information you learn in class with you throughout the week. Over time, you probably won’t need a class at all to utilize healthier ways to deal with stress.
“As a business owner and trial attorney, anxiety is a natural and healthy thing,” says Robert May, founder of The May Firm. “However, when it feels too big I really try to step back and take a couple minutes to put things back into perspective. I take a few calming breaths and focus on the task at hand and not everything that needs to be done. Also, take time to do something for yourself. Sometimes just taking my dog for a 30-minute hike really helps.”
4. Recognize clinical anxiety.
For some people, anxiety goes beyond a reaction to daily stressors. If your anxiety is getting in the way of living a happy, productive life, it may be time to seek professional help. With an anxiety disorder, you feel general anxiety about life events even when that level of anxiety wouldn’t seem merited by others. In some cases, anxiety can accompany clinical depression or panic attacks.
“Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in the United States,” says Cole Rucker, CEO at Paradigm New York, a center that works with teens suffering from anxiety and depression. “With treatment, you can learn coping mechanisms and even find medication that helps regulate the condition, which will in turn help you lead a healthy, productive life.”
Anxiety not only impacts your productivity, but it also disrupts your health and well-being. By learning how to manage your stress and finding healthier ways to cope, you can eventually begin to enjoy the chaos of the day. Whether you use relaxation techniques or learn to meditate, just a few minutes when stress is at its worst can make a big difference.