Anyone running a small business knows that it can be overwhelming at times. Truthfully, if could feel overwhelming most of the time. The reason that owning and running your own business is so stressful is that everything, or just about everything, tends falls on your shoulders.
You are expected to wear a number of hats at once and there seems to always be an endless number of tasks and actions that await you day in and day out.
According to the 2012 Small Business Owner Report from the Bank of America, many small business owners claimed that twice as much stress in their lives comes from running their businesses compared to the stress involved in maintaining a healthy relationship with a partner. They also claimed that running a small business was much more stressful than both managing their personal finances and raising their children.
That’s a lot of stress!
Ultimately, the stress tends to be worth it if you are living your dream of being your own boss and providing a service or product to people that you truly believe in. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to relieve a bit of the everyday stress, or at least manage it a little better.
At the end of the day, your health needs to be prioritized above all else, and high levels of stress on a regular basis can have very negative effects on both your mental and physical health.
If you’re a small business owner that deals with high levels of work-related stress every day, here are some actions you can take to help reduce stress and stay healthy.
Technology is a beautiful thing. Modern small business owners are incredibly lucky that they live in a day and age in which new technologies that can help them manage their businesses more easily are popping up on a daily basis.
Humanity is a great example. Some of our users have reported that they decreased the time it takes them to schedule their staff by up to 80 percent just by switching to online scheduling and getting rid of their spreadsheets or pen-and-paper schedules.
Online employee scheduling software is really just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there’s probably a software solution that can help you simplify just about any business process you can think of, from posting on social media to running your payroll.
While you might not have the budget to purchase every tool you’d like to, picking up a few that you’ve prioritized as being most important to your work could certainly make life a lot easier for you and, conversely, reduce the stress that many of your day-to-day activities create for you.
Small business owners often believe that hiring help isn’t a realistic option in the early phases, but usually, that’s not true at all. There are plenty of tasks that are taking up too much of your time that can be outsourced to part-timers for cheap.
For example, are you writing and curating social media content for your business by yourself? You probably know a college student that’s willing to do that job for you for cheap and save you valuable hours each week.
The same goes for administrative tasks like scheduling meetings and calls or even bookkeeping. There are freelancers and part-timers out there who can perform these tasks better than you and for a fraction of the cost of the time and money you are losing each week by performing these tasks yourself.
Delegating doesn’t only work for tasks, you can also ask other people to help you out when it comes to putting together strategies and answering some of the important questions you face as a business owner on a regular basis.
You no doubt know people who have started their own businesses before you and have become successful. Don’t be shy. Ask them questions, pick their brains and ask them for advice every now and then instead of trying to figure everything out on your own.
Studies have proven that increasing your daily physical activity is a great way to reduce stress. This doesn’t mean that you need to be in the gym two hours a day. Just about any type of physical activity can help in reducing your stress levels.
Do you have 30 minutes to kill before your next meeting? Don’t sit around looking at your smartphone, go out and take a walk around your office. Take a break from work and perform five minutes of stretching every other hour to get your blood flowing.
Another myth about exercise is that if you’re already tired, sweating it out at the gym is going to make you even more tired. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Physical activity increases your endorphin levels. These are the neurotransmitters that your brain produces that help you to feel better. The greater your endorphin levels, the more relaxed and satisfied you are generally. And the more energy you will have as well.
Exercise also improves your mood and gives you more self-confidence to conquer your everyday tasks.
Take a Break
Studies have shown that your employees are more productive and happier at work when they use all of their vacation time. It should then be no surprise that the same goes for business owners and managers.
The fact that you’re never taking time off is completely understandable. You’ve invested everything in your business and it is literally the most important thing in your life. We totally get it. But the more tired and stressed out you are, the less value you are providing to your business.
It’s important to step off the gas pedal every now and again to recharge your batteries. Get away with your family or friends for at least a week, and while you are away, try not to think about work at all – no matter how impossible that sounds.
Taking a break doesn’t even have to mean going on vacation. Going out for lunch every day and taking an hour to eat in peace and enjoy a walk around town without checking your emails can do wonders for your stress levels. Another good idea is designating one day each week to spend outside the office with your loved ones and to make a rule that you won’t be taking any work-related calls or engaging in any business-related tasks during that day.
Any tasks you have lined up are going to be completed more effectively after you’ve refreshed your perspective a bit and taken a break from the daily grind.
Fix Your Diet
One of the worst things about being constantly buried in work is that you tend to stop paying attention to your diet. Many small business owners fall into this trap. They believe that they don’t have time to eat properly, which leads to their diets consisting of nothing but coffee and fast food.
The truth of the matter is that eating healthy does not take that much time. It simply takes a little more attention. There are certain foods that you should eat if you want to decrease stress levels, such as foods that are high in fiber. Healthy foods not only fight stress, they also lower the levels of hormones in your body that are most commonly tied to triggering an increase in stress.
Try to seek out foods that are low in fat, high in fiber and make sure that you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
And it’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat. On your most stressful days, you are better off eating smaller meals more often. By doing this, you are stabilizing your energy levels so that there are less energy peaks and valleys during the day.
Most importantly, starting the day off with a healthy and balanced breakfast is one of the best ways to make sure that your that your body is getting what it needs, especially in the crucial morning hours. Trying to make it to lunch on nothing but coffee is not the way to go.
Business owners are often chronically tired because they just don’t get enough sleep every night. Whether you like it or not, getting enough sleep is an absolute necessity, not just for business owners but human beings in general.
Take a look at exceptional athletes, for example. Their work regimes are crazy. They work on making their bodies stronger for hours every day, they keep diligent records of what they eat, they study tape of their performances every day, yet they always make sure to account for getting enough sleep.
Why? Because no matter what other steps they take to improve their performances, it’s not going to matter if their bodies and minds do not get the rest they need to recover. Sleep deprivation affects not only your judgment and memory, but your mood as well. In fact, research has shown that a majority of people would be happier, healthier and safer if they prioritized sleep and got an additional 60 to 90 minutes of it every night.
A good night’s sleep can truly do wonders when it comes to reducing stress levels. Not only does more sleep equate to less stress, it’s also helps you to better manage the unavoidable stresses of running a small business. Tired people tend to lack the patience and clarity of mind needed to properly function in high-stress work environments.
The bottom line? Make sure you’re doing everything you can to secure for yourself at least seven hours or quality sleep every night.