Amid the coronavirus pandemic, business owners and entrepreneurs are under more stress than ever before. All over the US, companies are reducing their workforce, increasing leverage, and filing for bankruptcy in numbers not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. The question for many business owners this year is no longer about how to succeed, but about how to survive.
The impact of stress on physical and mental performance is already well-documented. While a small amount of stress is natural and a useful motivator, excessive or unnecessary stress can exact a heavy toll on your health. It can cause fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness – none of which are ideal for entrepreneurs who have a company to worry about as well.
Many people who are stressed will be given the same piece of advice: simply remove excess stress from your life. But in most cases – and perhaps especially for business owners – this is a useless suggestion to make. Can an entrepreneur who has borrowed heavily or invested his or her life savings into a company simply pack up and quit at the drop of a hat in order to control their stress? Of course not. Selling up might be an option under normal circumstances. But we’re not under normal circumstances, are we?
In that case, the appropriate question to ask is this: how can business owners de-stress while running a company? The answer won’t be the same for everyone, of course. But there are a variety of proven methods that can help you de-stress and improve your physical and mental performance at the same time.
Here are five of the most effective ways for business owners to de-stress.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a state of low mood or anxiety, you’ve probably been told by well-meaning souls that you need to exercise more. Unlike the suggestion you can just remove all excess stress from your life, exercise is proven to alleviate the symptoms of stress and (obviously) improve physical wellbeing.
In addition to its well-known benefits, exercise does something else you may not know about: it makes you more creative. Studies show that exercise stimulates a process called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which helps new cells to grow in the hippocampus.
Here’s the cool part. The hippocampus is important for long-term memory – but studies suggest it’s also vital for creative thinking as well. For that reason, neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki believes BDNF doesn’t just improve long-term memory – it helps the brain to imagine new situations, too.
Creative thinking is the key to good problem-solving – and given the current business environment, good problem-solving is a must. For that reason, any stressed-out entrepreneur who doesn’t already have a workout routine should get one as soon as possible.
Meditation has become an industry in itself in recent years. Apps offering guided meditations to calming music, stories, or sounds are everywhere. New mindfulness startups emerge regularly. According to IBISWorld, the meditation industry in the US is now worth $1bn. That’s nothing to be sniffed at, though it is a drop in the ocean of the booming global wellness industry, which is now worth $4.5tn.
While some apps or services might be more helpful than others, research clearly shows that meditation, in general, can be hugely beneficial to the mental health of people who practice it. An in-depth article on meditation published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, and help insomnia.
If paying for a premium meditation service doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are plenty of guided meditations available on YouTube to follow. Next time you have an hour to yourself, sit yourself down and give meditation a try. You might find de-stress quicker than you think.
Entrepreneurs and business owners constantly juggle a huge number of responsibilities, concerns, and preoccupations. If that sounds like you – and your workload is starting to feel overwhelming – one of the most effective ways to take control of your stress is to get organized.
This isn’t just a hunch. In fact, a 2011 paper published by Florida State University found that just planning to get tasks done can help relieve the anxiety caused by unfulfilled goals. You don’t necessarily even have to finish them! The paper found that making lists reduced the intrusive thoughts associated with incomplete tasks regardless of whether those tasks were eventually completed.
The other benefit of making a to-do list involves breaking down tasks. Entrepreneurs with a lot on their plate might often look at big projects and feel overwhelmed. Where do you start? What’s the most efficient way to get it done? What resources will need to be devoted to it?
Writing a to-do list is a helpful way of breaking down these mammoth tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. So, if you’re an entrepreneur feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, do yourself a favor: grab a notebook and pen and start listing!
If you like meditation and exercise and want a way to merge the two together, yoga’s the de-stressor you’re looking for. Multiple studies substantiate the claim that yoga can help to reduce stress and anxiety as well as enhance your overall mood and sense of wellbeing.
The other benefit of yoga is that while it looks low-impact, it’s incredibly good for your physical wellbeing. Vinyasa flow yoga incorporates a number of different stretches and exercises that improve flexibility, range of motion, body strength, and core strength – all the while guiding you into the state of calm and mindfulness vital for stress reduction.
We’re not talking about problem-solving, here. Research suggests that spending time on hobbies can improve mental wellbeing, reduce stress, and relieve low mood. Your hobby can be almost anything – perhaps you want to take up an instrument, or maybe you’d like to start painting. It could even be something that incorporates physical exercise as well, like team sports.
The point is that these hobbies are a way to get your head out of the spreadsheets and reports for an hour or two and focus on something that’s for you. Not only that, but the sense of achievement from getting good at something new may also improve your resolve in the workplace.
There’s no denying it: times are tough for business owners and entrepreneurs right now. Coronavirus has created a business climate that has thrown countless companies into precarious and uncertain circumstances.
It might not be possible to reduce the stress in your life right now. But these activities can help you deal with stress far better than you would otherwise be able to. Give them a go and you could find your sense of well-being improving quicker than anticipated.
About The Author
Rob English is the Senior Solutions Officer at Pharmica, an online pharmacy based in central London. In addition to his responsibilities in web and business development, Rob also writes about issues related to health and wellbeing.
Businessman meditating -DepositPhotos