Personal Effectiveness:
Ten Tips for Stress Management

Running a business can be stressful so these ten tips for stress management offer some good practical ways for you to stay balanced and in control. Managing your stress is important because when we're stressed our instincts take over and our responses are limited to 'flight or fight' which can obviously impair our decision making ability.

Understanding stress and stress management

Business Coaching Insight:

Taking breaks and minimizing stress allows you to be more productive and make better quality decisions 

Stress in the workplace occurs when we feel overwhelmed by all the tasks we have to do and we perceive that we're not capable of doing them due to lack of time, resources, skills etc.

Stress is actually a normal biological response. If we're playing a sport, stress about being beaten will cause us to fight for a win. However, constantly lying awake at night worrying about your cashflow causes chronic on-going stress that is bad for your health.

Stress is also bad for business. It causes us to be less productive, less creative and less fun to be around. It closes us off from other people and shuts out ideas and opportunities.

So, start putting these ten tips for stress management in to action and reap the benefits:

Effective stress management strategies

1. Chunk your work down in to smaller baby steps

Being overwhelmed causes stress and the best of our ten tips for stress management that overcomes this problem is to chunk your business goals and workload down in to smaller steps.

Whilst it's important to have a big vision for your business, it's also important to realize that 'Rome wasn't built in a day'.

Don't be in a rush - your business will grow as the result of a series of small steps, not one big leap.

2. Change your perspective and attitude

If a competitor suddenly does something that potentially threatens your business you have a choice about how to respond. Stress doesn't come from the event itself, it comes from how you choose to respond.

Your initial reaction to a situation like this might be negative. Even the biggest optimists have moments of doubt and negativity. The key is not to let it take over. Consciously take some time to reflect, notice the thoughts you have and them change them.

For example, if a thought occurs like "they are going to take all my business", change it to something more positive like "my clients are loyal and love what we do for them, there will be more clients out there who prefer to work with us."

If you've been programmed to be pessimistic by culture, family and life experiences, of all the ten tips for stress management, changing your attitude will have most impact on your life and therefore your business.

3. Get organized

It may sound obvious but being well organized enables you to cope much better when the workload starts to pile up. Otherwise chaos piles up on top of chaos. Being organized means:

  • Planning ahead - taking a few moments each day or each week to look ahead and start delegating now will enable you to manage the pipeline of work better and therefore your stress levels
  • Keeping your physical environment tidy - as the saying goes, "tidy desk equals tidy mind." Consciously organizing clutter is an effective stress management technique that will save you time, energy and money.
  • Being on top of things - procrastination adds to stress levels whereas if you handle things as they come in you will feel more in control. This means doing things like deleting emails immediately that you don't need to action so you don't feel overwhelmed by them as they clutter your inbox

4. Maintain a good work life balance

Your business is important but it is not your whole life. Just remembering this being aware of this will help you deal with stressful situations. Of all these ten tips for stress management, this is one of the most important for small business owners who often 'borrow' time from their family or personal life to work on the business.

Taking holidays is good for business and one of the most important of these ten tips for stress management. They allow you to rejuvenate so you come back clearer, more creative and more energized. Net result = better thinking for your business.

5. Focus on your strengths

Do what you're best at and don't stress yourself out doing those tasks which are best delegated or outsourced to someone else.

If you are great at building client relationships and selling, don’t waste time trying to do book-keeping and admin tasks. Think about how much more money might be coming in if you just focus on what you’re good at.

6. Take regular breaks during the day

Whilst it's important to take holidays during the year, relying on them as your only stress relief will not help you very much.

The ultimate goal is to find ways to take small breaks during every day so you can take time out to minimize stress. Even if it's only for 5 minutes.

7. Stop comparing yourself

This might surprise you but it's definitely a member of our list of ten tips for stress management. Stop being overly bothered by what your competitors are doing.

A healthy regard for what’s happening in the market is important but don’t obsess. Instead, focus that effort on determining your own niche and uniqueness in the market. This will make you feel far more confident and therefore less stressed.

8. Be well protected

If you’re living on the edge financially, any hiccups in your business’ cashflow will cause you to be extremely stressed. ‘Saving for a rainy day’ is a good adage to live by in life and business.

Making sure you are well protected means putting strategies in place such as: having appropriate insurance, setting aside financial savings in the business, having detailed contracts etc. It even extends to making sure you have a back up plan in place for when computers break down.

The principle here is to protect yourself against the possibility of problems that cause you to be stressed.

9. Create healthy habits

Business owners need to maintain a clear head. The stronger you are physically the stronger you will be mentally so part of your daily habits should include good nutrition and regular exercise. Some examples of good daily habits that will support you to be your best are:

  • Do some exercise - even going for a short walk with the dog is better than nothing
  • Write a journal - a great way to vent stressors
  • 3 meals a day - no matter what!
  • Go to bed on time
  • Read a book that is positive and uplifting
  • Choose to instigate some daily habits that inspire you or make your feel good and make them a part of your daily routine. This may be one of the easiest ten tips for stress management to start with - do them for 2-3 weeks until they become a new habit.

This may be one of the easiest of the ten tips for stress management to instigate - do them for 2-3 weeks for them to become a new habit.

10. Simplify your life

Some people have the bad habit of making their lives (and businesses) pointlessly complex.

We were all raised to believe that working hard is how we achieve success and consequently everyone feels driven to make their lives busy. We've all bought into the idea that if we're busy we must be achieving more and heading towards success.

It's contagious but its not true.

If you want to minimize your stress and get better results for your business, look for ways to simplify how you do business and how you live your life.

Stress management in the workplace

Once you've got a handle on your own personal stress management, begin to consider how you could create a minimal stress environment for your team.

What are the sources of stress to you and your team in your business? Some possible examples might be:

  • Long hours (with no time off to compensate)
  • Unreasonable demands and expectations
  • Trying to do too many projects at once
  • Poor physical environment - not enough space, too much clutter/noise
  • Poor relationships - eg. gossiping and bullying between staff

Business Coaching Questions:

  • What are the main sources of stress in your business?
  • How can they be eliminated or minimized?
  • In what ways could your business be simplified?
    What could you delegate or outsource?
  • What projects or tasks could you just drop altogether?

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