For working with many different people and business owners over the years, I have learned everyone has different ways of handling stress.
Some people have a “bring it on” attitude – the more stress, the more productive and creative they tend to be in their work. They laugh in the face of looming deadlines and joyously tell everyone else to breath and that the work will get done. They have a “no worries” approach to stress.
Other people tend to shut down and panic. The deadline may be a day away and they are already freaking out that there’s no way they can possibly get the work done.
And other people are so incredibly organized that they have the project completed two or three days beforehand, believing stress is only for those who don’t plan ahead.
Stress can cause some people to overeat, drink too much, lose sleep and be generally unpleasant to be around.
Unfortunately, stress is part of being a small business owner and can come from many different avenues – from taking on new clients, to meeting deadlines, to problems with equipment, to another company not fulfilling an order or meeting a deadline.
So, what’s the best way to deal with stress: Here are 9 tips to help you look at stress as a thing of the past.
- Get some exercise – Whether you take a walk around the block or walk up and down the stairs, do something to get away from your desk. I know many people will say they don’t have time to walk for 20 to 30 minutes during the work day. I know by getting up and moving around, I tend to find solutions to problems or get an idea. I also come back to my desk refreshed and ready to go with new ideas and new energy. It also helps if you can make exercise a regular part of your weekly routine – whether you exercise before or after work, it will help during the work day.
- Make a list – Divide the list into get done before noon, before 2 and before 5. Or divide it into days of the week. Write down what needs to get done and when. There’s something satisfying about crossing off items on your “To Do” list that makes you feel like you are accomplishing something.
- Delegate – Too often people who are stressed out have too much on their plate. It’s important to ask for help. Assign tasks you really don’t need to be doing to a colleague. Or call a temporary agency and hire someone to come to your office for a day to file or copy papers or run errands.
- Do what you hate first. Ok, hate is a pretty strong word but for all of us there are tasks we just don’t like doing. Maybe it’s calling the client who always complains or organizing the storeroom. By doing the task you dislike first, you get it done and don’t have a reason to procrastinate doing it. Plus, it allows you to do the things you enjoy doing.
- Get outside – It doesn’t matter the weather, things always seem to be better when you get to step away from your desk and be outside. Take deep breaths, count your blessing, realize the work has to and will get done.
- Be kind to yourself – We all want to be super woman or super man. Perfect in every practically way. And we all tend to be a little hard on ourselves when a project isn’t going quite right or despite how much we planned for things to go one way, they went the exact opposite. This is when you need to take a deep breath and tell yourself you are doing the best you can given the circumstances at hand. Trust in yourself. Know you are doing your best.
- Keep a perspective – Too often we tend to think if something doesn’t go as planned, we are a failure and it’s the end of the world. Most people will understand if you call them and ask for another day. Be honest and say the project will be to their satisfaction if you could have another day to work on it. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a deadline. And it’s not worth your health and sanity if you do.
- Control what you can. Unfortunately, things will not only go as planned. Someone along the way will mess up, whether it’s because of miscommunication, another problem on their end… You can’t control everything in life but you can control your attitude. If you are negative and complaining, it only will make the matter worse. Instead, approach problems with a positive attitude. Every problem has a solution.
- Learn to say no. One reason we tend to be stressed is because we cannot say no. Someone asks us to do this and we say yes even though we know another person wants something due on the same day. When I was waiting tables, I was told never to call more trays than I could handle. Some of my colleagues could carry two trays with four plates of food each. I couldn’t. I knew my limits. If you want to avoid stress, it begins with knowing how much you can handle and setting boundaries.