Coping with work stress
Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs
The fact that all the responsibilities of owning and running a small business rest squarely on your shoulders, probably causes you a lot of stress. And that's before you've even started with the hard work and long hours. Adopting some stress management techniques can help you cope and even use it productively.
Even if you love what you're doing and business is good, you could still sometimes feel overwhelmed by the pressure of being an entrepreneur. The fact that business may not be so good right now, adds a whole new level of anxiety on top of everything else.
Being stressed out has many consequences for your mind and body:
- Bad eating habits, no exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol, etc. are common to people with stressful jobs. These can cause high blood pressure, cholesterol and various other stress-related medical conditions
- Constant work pressure often causes emotional exhaustion and negative or cynical attitudes. This can lead to depression, which has been linked to other health concerns such as heart disease and stroke, obesity and eating disorders, diabetes, and some forms of cancer
There are many ways to help manage your stress and even put it to some good use. Other than going to a psychologist for professional advice on what is causing your worry and how you can deal with it, here are some more tips:
- Make the most of your workday breaks. Even 15 minutes of "me time" will refresh your mental outlook. Take a walk, chat with an employee or colleague about non-work stuff or just sit quietly with your eyes closed and breathe
- Get in some exercise. Even 15 minutes of exercise a day can help you work off some anxiety and frustration. Exercise also gives you more energy and finding an activity you enjoy would be an added bonus
- If you feel angry, walk away. Conflict situations are very stressful. Mentally regroup by counting to 10, then look at the situation again
- Take time off. Yes, it's hard to take a holiday when you have your own business to run, but even a long weekend to a nearby destination can do wonders. Find someone to oversee things for a day or two and take that much-needed break
- Set reasonable standards for yourself and others. Don't expect perfection, from yourself or your employees. We're all human and can only do our best – which is never quite perfect
- Don't forget to make time for your family. Make time for family activities, with no work distractions allowed. It's important for all concerned
It is very unlikely that you will be able to eliminate stress completely, so focus on managing your stress and counter-acting its affects on your body and mind.
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