Stress Management For Business Owners
I am a business owner and a stress management consultant…and the former gives me plenty of opportunity to practice the latter. Running a business can be incredibly stressful – long hours, financial insecurity, doing something close to your heart, finding it hard to switch off…these are all common concerns. Last month I spent two weeks in Sierra Leone working with the military on peace and trauma work. This was the longest I have spent away from my business since starting it three years ago and it actually felt like a holiday! In that time however I have learnt a few things about managing stress – mostly the hard way – which I’d like to pass on.
Top 10 Stress Management Tips for Business Owners
The top reason most business owners I see are stressed is that they do not have boundaries around their work and it comes to take over their lives. I used to check my e-mail while still in bed, take reports to family get-togethers and sleep in my office. I don’t advise this.
Breathe, Exercise, Meditate
Take a breath and make time for regular exercise. Exercise reduces stress and makes people more efficient at work. Meditation is also excellent for stress.
Hand it Over
The ability to delegate tasks in a business is vital for both success and stress management. Too much (trying to) control = stress. In another sense there are also limits on what we can manage and control and there are times when acceptance and handing things over to luck/fate/God/whatever will keep you sane.
If the systems within a business are taking the strain the owner won’t have to. Spend time working on you business and not just in it. No systems = work stress.
Watch your Thinking
How do you think about a particular problem? Is it the only way to think about it or just one way? Can you think yourself more or you less stressed?
Commitment (Time) Management
Being able to efficiently manage your time is crucial for managing stress and avoiding burnout. I recommend the book ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen. Time management is really about managing commitments, and the inability to say no or ask for help is the root cause of much stress and overwhelm.
While a huge subject and easier said than done, managing money and cash-flow in particular is critical for an entrepreneur’s mental health. Paying myself a set amount monthly and keeping a healthy reserve are two things that help me.
Relationships and Empathy
Keeping a good social support network and spending time with friends and family away from work is also helpful for managing stress. Having someone who really listens to you is vital.
Work, Rest and Play
Finding the balance between work, rest and play is essential to run a sustainable business. There is no cheating the system long-term and what’s the point in making money if you have no time or health to enjoy it?
Mark Walsh leads business training providers Integration Training – based in Brighton, London and Birmingham UK. Specialising in working with emotions, the body and spirituality at work they help organisations get more done without going insane (time and stress management), coordinate action more effectively (team building and communication training) and help leaders build impact, influence and presence. Clients include blue-chip companies, UNICEF and the University of Sussex. In his spare time Mark dances, meditates, practices aikido and enjoys being exploited by two cats. His life ambition is to make it normal to be a human being at work.