First off we need to be aware of what stress is and where it’s coming from.
Is it a bad day perhaps where you didn’t get everything go your own way, or when someone didn’t hear you? From my experience of working with business owners I find entrepreneurial stress is often linked to our business objectives and our personal aspirations as well as our expectations of ourselves and others.
In the last article, ‘Stress Awareness Month’, we looked at recognising the sources of our stress. In this article we’ll go through some coping strategies that I’ve found have worked in the past.
1. Interruption and distraction log
This is simply a piece of paper or a notebook into which you can enter the time, source and reason for a distraction or interruption. At the end of the day, you can take time to review your entries and work on how to reduce them. For example, if your team interrupts you at random times of the day, ask them to collaborate and collate concerns or needs, and come to you between designated hours. The same tactic can work for emails, phone notifications and booking meetings.
2. Daily and weekly planning
This is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my own life. 20 minutes planning at the beginning of each week saves me hours! I can use the time to get the little things done, like setting notifications to silent. A solid plan for each day prevents your time being dictated to you and allows you to stay in control of your activity.
3. Connect your daily plan with your high pay-off activities
Personally, I use a daily journal to reflect back on the time I’ve spent during the day and connecting it with my high pay-off activities. This is how I end my day, drawing a line beneath business so I can move on with my personal time. In my journal, I reflect on three leading questions: What went well? How did I celebrate? What could be different/better tomorrow? You will likely take a different approach for your own reflections.
Speaking to a colleague, friend, partner or trusted connection can be immensely helpful. You could have your thoughts verified, challenged or just simply heard. You may be able to help someone else with their fears, concerns or challenges. Talking things out really does alleviate entrepreneurial stress.
I’ve always tried to have an element of physical activity in my life. When I was younger an injury halted my participation in my beloved football, but I found my way back to a healthy level of exercise. I currently train with Sara Southey of The Southey Way who helps me work on my mental health as much as my physical health. Whatever you choose to do, it’s a proven fact that physical activity lowers stress and aids sleep.
6. Control the controllable
This topic will be the focus of a full blog in the future, but ‘control the controllable’ makes a useful mantra for reminding you that some things are just out of your control. You can only control how you react to them. Implement time management tools, continue to educate yourself in your industry, and use your network for support to maintain that control. As an example, I stopped watching the news 5 years ago and it changed my energy, because I avoided the thought of how I could change things I have no influence upon.
7. Get away from your desk
Stopping work can seem impossible at times, but if you don’t take a moment to step away you could find yourself slowly becoming overwhelmed. There are micro-moments throughout the day you can often miss – stand up, breathe deeply, change your focal length, and then get back to it. Getting away doesn’t always mean taking a trip abroad.
8. Practise mindfulness
Whatever you’re doing, do that and think of nothing else, which can be easier said than done for many! However, if you’re going for a walk, enjoy your surroundings, really listen to what’s going on around you, talk to the dog or do whatever you need to, to make sure you’re truly present in that moment and not churning over the events of the day passed, or ahead. If you’re working on a task, try not to let your mind wander or be distracted by another ‘shiny object’.
9. Delegate or outsource
Is the source of your stress that you have too much to do in too little time? Is it because you are doing something you don’t enjoy, takes you too long or not within your skillset? Your business may have reached the point of organic growth and it could be time to bite the bullet and expand your team, or otherwise delegate.
10. Find a professional who helps with stress
You might do well to find someone who is professionally qualified to teach you the coping methods and skills to recognise your trigger points. Ask someone you trust if they can recommend someone, ask social media groups or check in with Mind, the mental health charity.
As always, I hope this article has been of use to you, if you’d like to talk over any of the points within it, please do get in touch.