Stress can be a motivator that helps you put in the hard yards to finish up a project, meet a deadline or work at a higher level. But we also know that too much stress can have negative impacts on our minds and bodies.
Stress is caused by a number of macro-level factors. The economy — things like increased taxes or a sudden, unplanned downturn in sales — can have big impacts on the stress levels of small business owners. This is accentuated when you have employees, suppliers or creditors that you need to consider as well.
Here are some simple strategies to help you keep your cool during stressful times.
Maintain an optimistic outlook
It isn’t always helpful to hear, “look on the bright side.” But there’s actual research (from Harvard, no less) that backs up this theory.
Alison Wood Brooks wrote in a Harvard Business School study she authored: “When you feel anxious, you’re ruminating too much and focusing on potential threats. In those circumstances, people should try to focus on the potential opportunities. It really does pay to be positive, and people should say they are excited. Even if they don’t believe it at first, saying ‘I’m excited’ out loud increases authentic feelings of excitement.”
Seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, collaboration should be seen as a positive thing — not only to help you complete a task or get through a rough patch, but also to help unearth new, fresh ideas or opportunities for future partnerships. Working as a team or in a partnership means that you also share the weight of the stress you feel, and you hear input that may contribute to a stronger final product or more effective ideas.
Find an excuse to take some downtime
If your plate is overflowing, we get that it can be difficult to take a coffee break, let alone a holiday. But a short break away from your small business can give you the time you need to regain perspective and think more clearly. If you can’t go on vacation immediately, start planning one — even this act can help to alleviate a bit of stress. Taking time off is incredibly restorative, and just having a trip to look forward to will put you in a better frame of mind. There are also tools that can help you keep a watchful eye on your business so you can maintain your peace of mind while you’re on the beach.
Pinpoint the cause of your stress
Taking a step back to identify the root of the problem may take the most effort, but it might ultimately be what you need to resolve it and move forward. If you don’t already know what sets you off at work, try to identify those triggers, and consider how to change or avoid them. It could be something as simple as adding an additional lunch cover staff member, changing the way you travel to work, or reducing your customer-facing hours in lieu of some behind-the-scenes admin time. If reducing stress in your current workplace is impossible, then maybe it’s time to start considering other options.
Believe in yourself
Don’t lose faith — it can make you second-guess your decisions, which leads to unlimited amounts of stress and anxiety. If you stay focused on your skills, abilities and goals, you’re more comfortable standing behind your decisions, which helps you maintain some balance, calm and positivity under pressure.