How to Avoid the Trap Door of Small Business Stress

03/24/2015 04:11 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2015


Stress! There isn't an entrepreneur alive that hasn't experienced it -- along with its ill effects. Some stress is good. It sharpens our wits and compels us to get things done. Too much stress, on the other hand, clouds our vision, dulls our creativity, interrupts concentration, and stifles our performance. Stress doesn't have to be your normal mode of operation, however. You can pursue several approaches immediately to sidestep the trap door of stress...that doesn't cost a dime.

1. Breathe. Sounds simple enough, although when stress hormones rush through our blood stream, its one of the first things we forget to do. The breath follows the brain. When the brain experiences stress, the breath becomes shallow. Some of us are known to "hold our breath" under stressful circumstances. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, remember to take a few big breaths to keep the oxygen flowing through your brain.

2. Take a Break. In fact, take a few breaks throughout the day. Pierre Khawand, author of The Results Curve: How to Manage Focused and Collaborate, discovered after a decade of research that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration. Former client, Dr. Lisa Berntsen's recent study, Take Ten Outside, offers an excellent solution to sustainable performance throughout the day. Simply stated, those who take short 10-minute breaks outside "reap the benefits in well-being, productivity, creativity, and reduced stress."

3. Meditate. Does meditation conjure up pictures of white robes, flowing hair, and scented candles? Frankly, I have trouble sitting still so the idea of meditating spawned its own stress. However, when stress begins to impact my focus and concentration, I reach for my little secret, Buddhify. Buddhify is a mobile mindfulness meditation app backed by scientific evidence of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation on mental wellbeing and concentration. The best thing of all? It includes meditation that can be used while you work online!

4. Control caffeine consumption. Stress produces fatigue. Caffeine, obtained via coffee, tea, or energy drinks, temporarily lifts fatigue and enhances performance. Unfortunately, you burn more energy while under the influence of caffeine that causes fatigue and adds to your stress. And, round and round it goes!

5. Get moving. Aerobic exercise is one of the greatest stress relievers available today. It pumps up endorphins, your "feel good hormones", improves your mood, and gives you a sense of control over your day. As an added bonus, you might be interested to know that there is direct correlation between exercise and your bottom line. A bigger bottom line is a great stress reliever for many entrepreneurs.

6. Rethink your work. Although the tactics listed above provide much needed stress relief for many business owners, it is time well-spent to reconsider your work. Examine how you work, when you work, and who you work with to resolve underlying causes of stress.

Did you know that stress at work is estimated at more than $300 billion a year in health care costs, absenteeism, and poor performance? Wow! With the promise of greater energy, clarification, higher performance, and ingenuity, it's worth dramatically reducing stress in your business.

How to Avoid the Trap Door of Small Business Stress first appeared on Synnovatia.

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