Stress. Just seeing the word gave you anxiety, didn’t it? Sure, everyone has their own variation of stress and it holds more weight in some areas of our lives more than others, but needless to say mostly everyone feels it on a regular basis. For entrepreneurs, it’s more like every couple of hours (or minutes) that we’re confronted with this six-letter word.
From piles of projects and deadlines, to pleasing clients and avoiding cash shortfalls, the workplace typically is the culprit of anxiety buildup. And as we come to the end of April -- Stress Awareness Month (yes, there is such a thing!), there’s no better time to shed light on what fuels the angst in our days, and learn how to manage—if not prevent—it.
No. 1: Wake up earlier. Starting your day even 30 minutes earlier can make all the difference. In that time you can read the paper without distractions, listen or watch your favorite news program, stretch and mediate, have breakfast, etc. This can make all the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Imagine the possibilities with an extra hour!
No. 2: Know when you should and shouldn’t work your hardest. You’re bound to have sleepless nights, and if you don’t expect that when starting a business you should consider finding something else to do. There’s potential for those all-nighters to stretch for months, but you also need to understand when to relax.
You’re thinking, “It’s my business, working every second is a necessity,” but it’s not. If you stay at that pace, you’ll burnout and not have a business.
No. 3: Learn to meet challenges with humor. Humor in the workplace immediately drops or diminishes stress, so be sure to enjoy a joke from time-to-time. With a boost in mood, productivity will actually increase.
No. 4: Manage your frustration. You’re taking 20 steps back when you lash out on an employee. Your demotivating them only makes them less effective. There’s a difference between providing effective feedback, and simply scolding them to the point of humiliation.
No. 5: Understand when it’s time to go home. You won’t have genius ideas 24/7, so it’s OK when your brain is momentarily fried and isn’t producing them. Recognize that it’s probably time to call it a night when this happens, so go home and refresh yourself. In most cases that million-dollar idea will pop into your head when you’re walking the dog, making yourself a nice meal or about to fall asleep.
No. 6: Sit on a bouncy exercise ball. Not only does physical activity reduces stress (yes, stabilizing your core certainly constitutes as activity), but bouncing is scientifically proven to make you more effective. How so? It makes you more alert, allows you to speak more easily and assuredly, and gets you focused. The best part is, you don’t realize you’re doing any of this because it’s just plain fun.
No. 7: Value weeknights: Instead of heading home after work to put on pajamas and catch a TV show, make it a point to do something outside of the box. Go see a local play, have a casual dinner party or find a place to volunteer at least once a week. You would be amazed what it can do for personal morale.
No. 8: Share your thoughts. You don’t have to go to therapy or seek a personal coach (though both are good!). Find a peer group where you can share what is going on at work and in your life. Depending on the size of your company, you can try EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) or Vistage.
Tom Gimbel is the Founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a $35+ million staffing and recruiting firm based in Chicago. Founded in 1998, LaSalle has served thousands of clients and candidates, placing job seekers in temporary, temporary-to-permanent and permanent positions.