Stress is a common experience for small business owners, who often have to wear many hats and juggle multiple responsibilities on a daily basis.
However, chronic stress can have negative effects on both mental and physical health, as well as productivity and overall business success.
So, it’s important for small business owners to have some strategies up their sleeve to proactively manage stress.
Story of My Life Journal utilises evidence-based mindset, wellbeing, and goalsetting strategies to support people in becoming who they want to be – from work to home, and all stops in between.
I’ll get to a few suggestions small business owners can take from those strategies to help manage stress, but first, why should you care?
The impacts of stress
Ok, let’s start with something all small business owners share, and that is a passion for the business they founded and are heavily committed to.
It’s their life. It’s just that … it’s not.
Their life is far more than their business.
Recent research has shown that stress can have both physical and mental effects on individuals.
High stress levels are linked to both short and long term health problems, such as headaches, raised blood pressure, chest pain, sleeping difficulty, weakened immune system, and anxiety, as documented by the highly-respected Mayo Clinic.
Longitudinal studies of stress also suggest a connection between stress-related medical issues and mood disorders, such as depression.
This chronic stress has a direct effect on organs such as the heart, pancreas, and brain, which could potentially lead to heart disease, diabetes or stroke.
All of this makes it clear that stress can have serious implications for our overall health.
And we can’t devote our time and energy to the passion we hold for our small business if we’re attempting to pour from an empty glass.
Causes of workplace stress
Work stress can be extremely detrimental to employee morale and productivity, so it is important for employers to understand the major stressors in the workplace.
According to research from the American Institute of Stress, job demands, and lack of autonomy are among the leading causes of stress in the workplace.
Other stressors include excessive workloads, unrealistic expectations for performance, miscommunication between supervisors and subordinates, and feelings of being underpaid or unrecognised.
Fortunately, there are steps small business owners can take to create a stress-free environment in the workplace.
For those small business owners with employees, it might be helpful to conduct regular stress surveys, stay up-to-date on industry research related to stress reduction, and provide ample resources (such as stress management training programs) that can help boost morale and reduce stress levels.
Get to the tips
Ok, so you came for the tips, not the life story of stress.
It’s just that at Story of My Life Journal, we believe in the motivational power of the ‘why’ – of understanding the cause and effect, and not just the ‘how’ of addressing the outcomes.
So, hopefully that brief rundown was supportive.
Now, for stress itself and what to do about it.
1. Prioritise self-care
Self-care is crucial for managing stress levels.
Small business owners often have demanding schedules, but it’s important to make time for activities that promote physical and mental wellbeing.
This can include regular exercise, mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep breathing, and hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation.
2. Set boundaries
Small business owners often struggle to separate work and personal life, which can lead to burnout and increased stress levels.
Setting clear boundaries between work and personal time is important for achieving a healthy work-life balance.
This can involve setting specific working hours, delegating tasks to employees, and avoiding the temptation to constantly check work emails or messages outside of work hours.
3. Practice time management
Effective time management can help small business owners avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed by their workload.
This can include creating a daily or weekly schedule, prioritising tasks based on urgency and importance, and avoiding multitasking whenever possible.
As mentioned above, it’s also important to take breaks and allow time for rest and rejuvenation.
4. Seek support
Running a small business can be a lonely and isolating experience, but it’s important to seek support from friends, family, and other business owners.
This can involve joining a business community or networking group, attending events or conferences, and seeking mentorship or guidance from experienced business leaders.
Having a support system can help small business owners feel less alone and more equipped to handle the challenges of running a business.
5. Practice stress-reducing techniques
There are many techniques that can help reduce stress levels, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualisation exercises.
Experimenting with different techniques and finding what works best for individual needs can help small business owners manage stress more effectively.
The best part is that many of these techniques can be practiced discretely – even in a workplace setting.
6. Get organised
Stress can often be a result of feeling disorganised or overwhelmed by a messy workspace or workload.
Small business owners can benefit from taking the time to declutter and organise their workspace, as well as creating systems for managing tasks and paperwork.
This can help reduce stress and improve productivity.
7. Practice effective communication
Effective communication is essential for managing stress levels in the workplace.
This can include setting clear expectations with employees, providing constructive feedback, and addressing conflicts or issues as they arise and not letting them fester.
Good communication can help reduce misunderstandings and create a more supportive and positive work environment.
8. Take a break
Small business owners often feel like they can’t afford to take time off, but it’s important to allow time for rest and rejuvenation.
Taking a holiday or even just a long weekend can help reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing.
It’s also important to allow time for hobbies and other activities outside of work to help recharge and boost creativity.
Boost you AND your business
Managing stress is essential for small business owners to maintain good mental and physical health, as well as achieve success in their business endeavours.
These are just some of the strategies you can take, but the key is finding what works best for you.
You might find that by looking after you, your business ultimately benefits.
For more tips and strategies, head to storyofmylifejournal.com.
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