Are you stressed out?

This is probably a rhetorical question for a small business owner.  You’ve got a million things to do ranging from:

  • getting your bookkeeping and payroll updated (or at least reviewed),
  • checking into the details of an HR question an employee brought up last week,
  • a vague sense that you ought to have a PLAN for your marketing and not just buying an ad from the nice person that came into your office last week and finally…
  • focus on delivering the product or service that you are in business for in the first place!

It stresses me out just writing that…!

There’s a good article in the December Men’s Journal entitled “How to make stress work for you”.  It gets into the science and fairly recent discoveries on how and why stress occurs – especially Chronic Stress, which can lead to debilitating health issues…and is generally not a lot of fun.

Stress is the biological coping mechanism that the human body developed as the enabler for the Fight or Flight response.  Basically when you perceive something as threatening, or even just out of the ordinary, your body will attempt to rev up so you can attack the threat or run away from it.

Unfortunately it’s a really bad idea to attack (or run away from) the potential sales prospect that’s giving you a hard time.  Leaving you with a situation where your body has tensed up and is ready to act…and you’ve got no action to give it.

What can you do about it?  Here are a couple of ideas from the article and my own personal experience that might be helpful:

  1. Cut the inner chatter.  It’s common to talk yourself into worst case scenarios “If I don’t land this client, then my business will fold, then I’ll have to sell my house, then I’ll be living on the streets”.  All or nothing scenarios are unrealistic, but they add to the stress you’re feeling.  Consider that you’re blowing the problem out of proportion.
  2. Talk it out.  Even the strong silent type could benefit from talking about what their issues are.  The act of vocalizing a problem can often help put it into a different frame and getting feedback and perspective from others may be all you need to get some traction and get things under control.  (Note – A peer group advisory board is perfect for this).
  3. Get under controlDevelop some time management, productivity skills and approaches.  A great resource for this is Getting Things Done.  Are you taking advantage of tools that are readily available that could help you get your schedule under control, keep track of what you want and need to do, and help you plan the most effective way to finish what you want to get done?
  4. Say No.  My experience has been that most people have a really hard time saying no to extra responsibilities.  It’s alright to not be the go to person for everything you’re involved in.  The 3rd grade class will still have a successful party if it’s store bought cookies versus homemade.  If it helps, say NO for now, you can always come back and say yes later.
  5. Get physical.  There has been extensive research proving that physical exercise will not only relieve stress that you’re feeling now, but it will make you better able to handle stress in the future.  Even if you can’t make it to the gym, a quick walk around the building or up and down the stairs will help you feel better.

Stress generally gets a bad rap, but the reality is that stress can often be a very good thing (in moderation and handled properly).  You will do your best work when you’re feeling some pressure to perform.  Stress can challenge you and elevate you and help you evolve to new heights.

How do you handle stress?  Share any tips you might have to manage your stress…or perhaps to avoid it in the first place.

Shawn Kinkade