Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety as a Business Owner - Avoiding Unnecessary Stress

Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety as a Business Owner

There are many positives that come along with running your own business. You can make your own schedule. You make all the decisions about how to spend your revenue. On the flip side, making all the decisions all the time can feel overwhelming and stressful. It’s important to develop the tools to handle stress and anxiety as a business owner.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 70% of adults encounter stress or anxiety every day. Most of these adults say the stress interferes with their lives. Similarly, most business owners would likely report that stress has a negative impact.

The problem with being afflicted with burnout when you’re a business owner is that you can’t exactly stop and smell the flowers for a while, and then come back when you’re refreshed and re-centered. The business isn’t going to slow down for you, and neither is the workload. This is a dilemma that is widespread among owners.

So, instead of telling you to, “Just relax,” this article offers a few practical solutions that you can utilize on the fly and hopefully keep your output steady.


Recognize Your Stress Triggers

Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety as a Business Owner - Recognize Your Stress Triggers

While everyone obviously experiences stress, we all have different triggers that we should make a point to recognize. Life tends to throw a lot at us at once & simply taking a moment to assess how we are processing things, can make a difference in how to better identify things in the future.

Some common stress and anxiety triggers include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by a long task list
  • Being overscheduled
  • Worrying about an upcoming business-related event or presentation
  • Financial concerns
  • Trouble balancing family and work-life

    Often, it’s a combination of a few things that greatly increase our stress levels up. Reflect on what your stress triggers look like. Sometimes, just going through this self-evaluation process can help you get a handle on things.


    Stress Affects Your Mind and Body

    Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety as a Business Owner - Stress Affects Your Mind and Body

    We all know that people are happier and feel better physically when they experience less stress. In an ideal world, our bodies and minds would stay in a calm, peaceful state every hour of the day. In the real world, business owners confront potentially stressful situations many times in a given day.

    As a business owner, you have to take care of your brain like a student in school, where demands on mental output and stamina are high. When you come into work every day to run your business, you’re just like a student who is taking tests all day long; it’s going to be taxing on your brain.

    Both body and mind react negatively to stress. Being in tune with the reactions you personally experience can go a long way toward reducing stress.


    How the Body Reacts to Stress and Anxiety


    Stress can become measurably harmful to your physical health. To put it simply, our bodies tend to enter a “flight or fight” mode when we are over-stressed. Long-term stress puts you at higher risk of developing several serious health conditions.

    Our bodies let us know in several ways when stress levels are too high:

  • Dizziness, Headaches or Muscle tension
  • Increased or reduced appetite
  • Sleep issues
  • Upset stomach, indigestion, and acid reflux
  • Elevated blood pressure, Chest pain
  • Abnormal mood swings, feeling a ‘mental heaviness’

    Some people experience crying jags or even joint pain as stress-induced cortisone levels rise. Take stock of how your body feels when you are relaxed versus stressed. Being in tune with your body can help you recognize the signs of too much stress earlier.


    The Emotional and Mental Toll of Stress and Anxiety


    In addition to the physical issues that accompany stress, the emotional component can also interrupt your work life. We often become so used to feeling stressed that we don’t recognize when we’re reaching a tipping point. Totally normal, but if we actually try to pay attention to certain patterns within our behavior, it can help to avoid deeper mental anguish.

    We can’t perform to the best of our ability when our emotional and mental health is out of balance. As a business owner, this can become especially problematic.

    Emotional and mental responses to stress include:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Depressed feelings or prolonged sadness
  • Irritability, Mood swings
  • Memory problems & Compulsive behavior

    You might have difficulty evaluating your own emotional and mental state. You could get some insight by keeping a journal or discussing your stress with a trusted friend or loved one.


    What Can You Do About Stress?


    It is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives, including the unique stress related to being a business owner. You can learn to manage your stress and anxiety so it doesn’t affect your work-life, however. Don’t allow stress to negatively impact your success.

    Just keep in mind that the longer you endure certain levels of stress, the more harmful it is to you, even potentially affecting your physical health. Everyone deals with stress at work in his or her own way; the key is to deal with it, and not to just white-knuckle through it.

    Scientists and medical researchers have been studying stress for decades. We can learn a great deal about dealing with stress better thanks to their hard work. Just as stress triggers and reactions are unique to each individual, so is the best approach to reducing your stress.

    Try one or more of these tactics to tackle your stress & anxiety issues:


    Get Physical


    Exercise can decrease stress levels and improve physical, mental, and emotional health in several ways. Even short, low-impact exercise sessions can:

  • Improve your overall mood & outlook
  • Improve your immune system
  • Reduce levels of adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that negatively affect overall health
  • Increase levels of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers
  • Reduce fatigue or general restlessness
  • Improve alertness, concentration & cognitive function

    Many business owners simply can’t commit to a big exercise commitment. The good news is that even a little exercise can have a big impact. Stress researchers have found that just ten minutes of movement every day can help.

    Even if you aren’t a fitness buff, you can likely find an activity that suits your lifestyle and interests. Try hiking, invest in a treadmill desk, join a community sports team, or try a low-impact exercise like yoga. Any movement is helpful.


    Pamper Yourself


    When you run your own business, it can be difficult to prioritize your own well-being. Business owners tend to work longer hours, sometimes every day of the week. The schedule alone can create too much stress. Giving your body & mind time to decompress truly does work wonders.

    Consider treating yourself as a means to reduce stress. You can try:

  • Massage or Acupuncture
  • Taking a half-day off to do something fun
  • If you can afford it, buy yourself something special you’ve been wanting
  • Take a long bath or shower, OR better yet..head to the spa!
  • Give yourself a scalp massage or a foot rub

    You might feel a bit guilty when you take some time for yourself. Especially if you have children as well that you tend to put their needs ahead of your own on a daily basis. In the long run, however, your well-being and your bottom line will be better for it. When you are more relaxed, you can make better decisions and more easily engage your creative side.


    Try A Holistic Treatment


    Many people swear by less common treatments for issues like stress. Even if you’re a skeptic, consider giving one of these options a try. You may wind up surprised (and less stressed).

    Branch out a little and look into one of these ideas:

  • Aromatherapy – lavender and chamomile are thought to reduce stress
  • Meditation or Reflexology
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • White noise or zoning out to your favorite music (although I’d stay away from heavy metal)
  • Learn the relaxing art of Tai Chi

    These non-medical tools are free or inexpensive and can be used anywhere, even in your office. Incorporate a few of these ideas into your everyday routine. You may even be able to head off stress in the first place.


    Get More Rest

    Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety as a Business Owner - Get More Rest

    Sleep and stress are intertwined. Business owners often skimp on sleep..It’s of course understandable but it can compound over time and really wear you down. This is an issue that gets progressively worse as you become increasingly sleep-deprived. It’s simple: rest more; stress less.

    Try one of these tactics to incorporate more sleep into your routine:

  • Stick to a regular sleep routine
  • Use a noise machine to tune out background noise at night
  • Try melatonin to encourage drowsiness
  • Sneak short naps or periods of rest into your workday
  • Exercise before bedtime to increase tiredness
  • Invest in a good eye-mask and earplugs so you can sleep better while traveling

    If you are experiencing regular insomnia or your sleep issues are impacting daily activities, it’s time to visit your doctor. You may be experiencing sleep apnea or another sleep-related issue that could be medically treated.


    Talk to a Therapist


    Therapy isn’t reserved only for serious mental conditions. Many successful business owners see a counselor or therapist to discuss issues like stress and anxiety. It can immensely help to speak to an unbiased person about your life, even if it’s just to vent a little.

    Therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety in many ways:

  • Helping to identify underlying conditions contributing to stress
  • Allowing you to talk to an impartial person about your worries
  • Giving you new tools to combat stress
  • Determining whether you need psychiatric treatment or anxiety medication

    Counseling has never been more accessible than it is today. Try an online talk therapy service or research affordable, local counseling opportunities. Entering therapy can feel intimidating, but you’ll be glad you gave it a try.


    Join a Business Support Group


    Most communities have small business support groups run by local business owners. These groups can help with networking and leads, but they often offer a bonus feature: emotional support.

    Getting to know your local business cohorts can go a long way toward stress reduction. Benefits include:

  • Having a safe place to share your anxieties about running a business
  • Meeting new people who understand the stress unique to business ownership
  • Offering your perspective to other business owners can give you personal insight
  • Feeling less alone as a business owner

    When you find the right business support group, be sure to help grow the membership. The more active your group, the more beneficial it will be for the whole business community.


    Take a Break from the Ordinary


    Getting away from your usual routine can give you much-needed perspective and provide a refreshing reset. Even if you can’t get away, a change in routine could prove beneficial. Switch your day up, you may be surprised how it changes your mood.

    Try one of these easy ideas for breaking up a mundane schedule:

  • Try new restaurants for lunch a few days a week (if your wallet can afford it)
  • Meet clients in a different location than normal
  • Work from a picnic table or cool coffee shop for the afternoon
  • Take the long way into the office, or take a midday drive if you work from home

    These simple changes can help you hone in on issues that have been creating stress in your life. You may wind up surprised by how refreshing it can feel to shake things up a little.


    Laugh a Little


    This can seem a bit ridiculous or ‘silly’ but research has proven that smiling and laughing can greatly enhance your mood & reduce stress. The physical release of laughing, in particular, has been proven to reduce cortisol levels in the body.

    There are countless ways to get more laughter into your life. Try:

  • Watching a movie or TV show that always makes you laugh
  • Supporting local stand-up performers at an open mic event
  • Keeping a book of funny essays on hand for a quick laughter break
  • Calling or texting a friend who brings you joy

    It may feel counterintuitive to turn toward the lighthearted when you’re feeling the weight of stress, but it’s worth trying.


    Addressing Stress Helps You and Your Bottom Line!

    Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety as a Business Owner - Addressing Stress Helps You and Your Bottom Line

    Stress and anxiety can interfere with your personal and professional life. Every person responds differently to stress triggers & stress management techniques. There’s bound to be a tactic that’s right for you.

    Don’t give up if you don’t find a stress-reduction tool that works for you right away. Your good health and mental wellness are worth the effort.

    Entrepreneurs have an especially hard time admitting that they can’t handle the heavy load. If you don’t change the way you’re managing it, though, the problem will only get worse with time.

    Achieving a peaceful work-life balance is possible, even for busy business owners. Remember, you’re not alone, and addressing your stress will help both you and your bottom line!




    Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

    Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

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