Entrepreneurship can be rewarding, but it can equally be just as stressful. As a business owner, you may find yourself trying to balance reading and responding to emails, taking phone calls, managing projects, sorting payroll, and everything else in between. While you can delegate some of these tasks to your personal assistant, the pressure of making sure your clients are happy and that you're making enough money to sustain your business and your life can make you want to do everything yourself. However, it can all take its toll on you, and it’s more than enough to exhaust and overload anyone.
The Different Effects of Stress
The truth of the matter is that everyone experiences stress. It comes in various forms, all of which have varying degrees of physical and mental health risks. Stressful situations can be a one-time thing, a short-term occurrence, or something that happens repeatedly over time. Some people may be great in managing stress, but others may need more time to recover.
It’s important to note that not all stress is bad. In dangerous situations, stress signals the body to go into fight-or-flight mode which triggers functions aimed at survival. In other cases, stress can motivate people, improving focus and alertness.
What can be challenging is when you’re trying to cope with the impacts of chronic stress. Since you’re experiencing a long-term stressor, the body never gets the signal to return to normal functions. In turn, chronic stress can affect different body systems, causing digestive issues, headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, irritability, and a number of other concerns. Over time, the prolonged strain on your body may contribute to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other serious illnesses, including mental health disorders.
How Stress Affects Your Work
While people expect stress and consider it to be the norm, the toll it takes on your mind and body can stop you from achieving success.
A survey conducted by TD Bank found that 60% of small business owners experienced an increasing amount of stress in their work, with 33% citing finances as their biggest trigger. Other stressors included managing employees, logging long hours, and handling client relations.
Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t stop at just your job as it can boil over into other aspects of your life. And when you’re not in a good state, it can cause a decrease in productivity and efficiency. In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association showed that the US economy loses $500 billion every year due to drops in productivity because of work-related stress.
According to research by renowned workplace and happiness experts Annie McKee and Emma Seppälä, chronic stress can also interfere with your social well-being and affect your co-workers, friends, and family.
Seppälä notes that anxious emotions can be contagious through pheromones, the chemicals released when one sweats. In other words, your anxiety can activate a level of fear in the people you come into contact with.
The way that you choose to manage work-related stress is also something to think about. McKee says that things can only get worse if your way of coping involves working more. She writes, “It makes things worse as we ignore our relationships, cut out fun, and eat and sleep poorly. Working like this doesn’t help us get more done, it does just the opposite. We are too tired and worn out to do our jobs well. Our resources are depleted.”
How Can You Beat Stress?
Finding happiness and living a stress-free life doesn’t have to be hard. However, do note that you can’t just talk yourself out, get distracted, or walk away from these situations.
Managing stress can not only make you feel better instantly, but it may also protect your health and well-being in the long run. In a decade-long study published in the European Heart Journal in 2010, researchers examined the association of feelings such as happiness, contentment, and enthusiasm, and the development of coronary heart disease. Every one-point increase in these feelings, collectively known as positive effect, showed the rate of heart disease dropping by 22 percent. Thus, researchers recommend boosting your positive effect by setting aside some time everyday for you to take part in activities that you enjoy.
Here are five other ways to help you beat stress.
1. Identify your stressors.
Pay attention to your state of mind throughout the day. When you feel stressed, take note of the cause, your thoughts, your mood, and your reaction. Once you figure out exactly what’s been bothering you, you can take the necessary steps to address it. This can mean a number of things, including having more reasonable expectations of yourself, knowing your limits, and accepting that it’s okay to make mistakes and not be perfect.
2. Build strong connections.
Work and personal relationships can also be a source of stress. Research shows that negative reactions toward the people that surround you cause immediate changes in hormones related to stress response.
However, these relationships can also act as buffers. Reach out to your co-workers, family, and friends, and explain what you’re going through. They may be able to offer practical solutions, useful ideas, and a fresh perspective.
3. Think before you act.
Some people can get impulsive when they’re stressed. Before you react, take time to regroup. It can be as simple as counting to 10 or walking away from your desk to work off some steam.
If a situation at work causes feelings of stress and anger, Seppälä suggests taking deep breaths. The simple act of breathing is a “rapid and reliable pathway into your nervous system dedicated to helping you regain your optimal state”.
4. Exercise and relax.
Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood booster. Committing to a daily walk or scheduling some time in the gym are small steps that can make a huge difference in reducing stress levels.
Research also shows that activities such as yoga and meditation can lessen stress and boost immune function.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Whether it’s at work or at home, everyone has a share of responsibilities to make sure that things run smoothly. Entrepreneurs are known to wear all sorts of hats in efforts to make sure the business succeeds, but there’s nothing wrong with delegation. Rather than do everything yourself, consider getting an executive assistant who can help you take care of your everyday tasks.
If finances and managing people are part of your work-related stressors, outsourcing work to an online personal assistant is something you can explore. A virtual assistant can take care of mundane tasks like checking emails and scheduling appointments, with some even able to do specialized tasks that involve marketing, sales, and accounting, among other jobs. As you outsource work, you can have more time to focus on business growth opportunities.
Getting a personal online assistant is also more cost-efficient compared to hiring an in-house employee. You don’t have to worry about needing more office space or buying new peripherals as most virtual assistants work remotely. Signing up with a virtual assistant service provider like OkayRelax can even help you cut down costs further, as they have subscription plans that are task-based so you only pay for the tasks done.
Virtual assistant services don’t just stop at work-related tasks, too. You can even have your assistant take care of personal matters like booking a restaurant for your family dinner and sourcing your groceries online so you can have less things to worry about.
Final Thoughts: The Key to Your Business’ Success
While everyone experiences stress, this doesn’t mean that you just have to accept it as the norm. As Seppälä writes, “Sustainable long-term success is not about burning the candle at both ends, it’s about learning to skillfully surf the stress wave.”
When you’re able to identify your stressors and find productive ways to cope, you can reap the benefits of short-term stress and avoid falling victim to chronic stress. With the right mindset, supportive family and friends, and a helpful personal assistant, overwhelming work-related stress can be a thing of the past.