Stress, disturbingly dubbed the “silent killer,” can destroy nearly every aspect of your wellbeing. You may experience nagging headaches, nausea, lost sleep, waning focus, and restless pacing.
But as an entrepreneur, the mental wear reaches new extremes.
The average small business owner will work 52 hours a week! They sacrifice personal relationships and general health to put financial success first.
Late-shipping orders, tech bugs, and customers with a vengeance are largely unavoidable. When the mental load becomes too much to bear, try one of these seven stress management tips for entrepreneurs.
Practice Deep Breathing & Meditation
Stress management is one of the few areas where new entrepreneurs notoriously struggle. But if you don’t have 30 minutes (or the energy) for a high-intensity interval workout, there are other coping mechanisms.
In recent years, mindfulness has taken over the airwaves.
All it takes is a two-minute deep breathing exercise, guided relaxation, or journaling session. This tactic will help you gain control of your breathing, relieve muscle tension, and bring you back to the present moment.
If you feel particularly overwhelmed on the clock, meditation and deep breathing can get you back on track.
Squeeze “Off Days” Into Your Schedule
The traditional entrepreneur mentality is, “If I don’t do it, who will?” But that doesn’t mean you must be on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Commit one or two days each week to giving your mind and body a much-needed reset. It doesn’t have to be Saturday and Sunday, either if you have top-notch employees who can take the lead from time to time. You can even plan for weekdays off.
The actual test is keeping your ”off” days completely work-free. Remind yourself that that voicemail, unanswered email, and incomplete project will still be there when you return.
Set More Realistic Goals
Tripling ROI and onboarding 50 new clients are both business-centric goals. But are they realistic? Or will you feel a sense of failure once the fourth quarter rolls around and you’re nowhere close to reaching them?
Don’t drive yourself insane trying to do the impossible!
The trick is creating realistic and attainable goals, also known as SMART goals.
In this scenario, the SMART acronym stands for:
For example, make 100 votive candle sales by close on June 10 if you own a candle shop.
It also helps to make short-term, milestone-like goals instead of year-end ones. That way, you’ll see success repeatedly throughout the year, which can reduce the stress build-up.
Don’t Forget to Take Breaks & Set Regular Hours
Even if this start-up is your pride and joy, it can’t disrupt a healthy work-life balance. Stretching past the 40-hour workweek can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack by 67%. There’s also a link between long hours and brain damage or dementia.
Give your body and mind a little time to recover!
Set a weekly work schedule — even if it doesn’t fit the usual nine-to-five — and attempt to cap it at 40 hours. Don’t forget to build in regular 15-minute breaks and a long gap for lunch.
When your “shift” ends, shut your laptop and turn off your business phone. The time between one shift and another is yours to recover. Worry about finishing the project in the morning.
Network, Network, Network!
The entrepreneur world can get incredibly lonely. The only people you speak to regularly are clients, customers, contractors, or employees you’re pawning tasks off onto. Nobody completely understands the obstacles you’re facing.
But guess what: it doesn’t have to be that way!
By building a support system of other entrepreneurs and small business owners, you’ll learn “what’s normal, and what’s not?” You’ll also understand that the unwinnable battles you’re waging right now aren’t new. Others survived them in the past and came out stronger.
Try networking and building a professional circle by attending entrepreneurs-only meet-ups. If you can’t find a mentor, at least aim for other businesspeople who can offer empathy and occasional feedback!
Prioritize Other Areas of Your Life, Too
What if we told you that your business’s success is a reflection of your health? It’s true! If you’re often flustered, exhausted, or frustrated, the mental fog and head-pounding headaches will become the norm.
Don’t allow your role as an entrepreneur to consume your entire life.
Make time for things you enjoy, too, like:
Getting daily exercise (even if it’s only biking to the office)
Eating a healthy, superfood-rich diet
Reading for fun
Spending time with your social circle
Relaxing (watching TV, sunbathing, or jamming out)
If you can’t pull your mind away from work, it might be time to find a new hobby that can distract you, even if only for a few hours.
Here’s a massive list of 357 hobbies to get those creative juices flowing.
Expand Your Team (Divide the Load)
The more business grows, the more you’ll realize that being a solopreneur is no longer sustainable.
There’s only one way to drag your workdays longer without overflowing your plate (and mental capacity):
Hire a virtual assistant to handle those time-consuming yet straightforward responsibilities, like answering calls and emails. Job platforms like Upwork and Fiverr have thousands of professionals willing to do the behind-the-scenes work on the cheap.
Or, if business is booming, think about expanding the entire team. Hire freelancers, cashiers, accountants (or bookkeepers), or even a manager to take some weight off your shoulders.
Figure out your budget first. Then, hire a part-time or freelance worker to see how your stress levels fare. Expand more if needed (and the budget allows).
Here’s a fact: if you’re a fresh-faced entrepreneur, you’ll juggle heavy workloads and mind-numbing stress at least several times per week.
To wit, a recent Gallup poll found that entrepreneurs face 3% more stress and 4% more worry than run-of-the-mill workers.
Don’t push your worries aside any longer!
With the seven creative tips above, you can regain your composure and grit without letting business success suffer.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Murfreesboro to help them with their online marketing.