Reduce Stress and Overwhelm as a Business Leader or Entrepreneur
It’s World Mental Health Day, and it’s time to tackle a problem that affects almost all of us on a daily basis: stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress, over 80% of American workers are stressed out on the job, and 65% have attributed this stress to causing difficulties in their lives.
While it may feel like stress and that feeling of being overwhelmed is just a natural state of pursuing success in America, it’s not something we should accept in our lives and workplaces. In fact, stress can lead to serious health problems, contributing to the cause of diseases like heart disease.
So if you’ve felt as if your to-do list was running circles around you, or you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a mistake you may have made or an email you forgot to send — this wake-up call is for you.
It’s time to put on your oxygen mask first and invest in some self-care, so you can effectively lead your organization.
1. Meditate for Peace of Mind
When was the last time you were truly still?
In our go-go-go inbox zero lifestyles, it’s easy to believe that the 24/7 workdays ushered in by email being accessible on our phones (seriously, whose idea was that?) are just the norm.
While we can’t travel back in time and prevent the Blackberry from being invented, we can start practicing mindfulness.
If your brain is cluttered with anxiety and worries, when are you going to find the space to come up with the next big idea for your business? You’re hurting yourself in the long run by not allowing yourself to be still and breathe.
Meditation also offers a host of health benefits, like reducing cortisol and inflammation in the body. MRI scans have shown that during mediation, the brain shifts it’s structure to better respond emotionally to stressful situations. Quieting your mind allows you to experience clarity and be open to creative thought that you need to advance your work, your business, and your life.
Download a meditation app like Headspace or Calm, or find a free meditation track on YouTube. Turn off the lights, sit still in a comfortable place, and let go. Your mind doesn’t have to be blank, gently let thoughts flow through without attaching to any of them.
Meditation is a practice, so don’t expect to be a pro at it on the first try. Commit to meditating on a regular basis, as little as five minutes a day, and soon you’ll start seeing results.
2. Serve Your Community
I’m too busy for community service is a common refrain to the suggestion of building in time for civic service. I get that — work is taxing, free time is limited, and
volunteering your time may not be your top priority.
However, being of service is an act that gives back and benefits you in the long run. Stress reduction is one of the main health benefits of helping others.
So even if you’re giving up a few hours of your weekend every so often volunteering at an animal shelter or food bank, know that the neurobiological rewards and social impact will make the time well spent for your wellbeing and for those you are helping.
Not to mention, giving back can be a fun activity to do with co-workers, friends, and family. Strengthening interpersonal relationships while fighting stress and doing good? I’d take another look at your calendar and find out when you can pencil in some volunteer time.
Or, better yet: find ways your business can become more socially-conscious to boost morale and reduce stress for everyone in your company. Social good is a mission that gives back to you and your employees as much as it furthers a good cause.
3. Experience Nature
In an 1862 article of The Atlantic, Henry David Thoreau explored the value of experiencing nature, saying: “When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and
woods: What would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?”
Escaping our urban environments and spending time in nature can offer us a fresh perspective, quieting the mind and reducing stress.
So if you’re anxious about a big meeting coming up this week or trying to untangle a difficult problem at work, take some time to go on a morning jog or hike.
4. Sweat Every Day
One of the easiest ways to combat stress is with feel-good endorphins released during exercise.
Not only that, but exercise stabilizes mood, improves sleep, fights anxiety, prevents disease… the list goes on and on.
So make the time to work out, even if it’s just turning on a YouTube workout or doing yoga when you get home from a long day.
Your daily sweat doesn’t have to be all cardio for results. Getting your namaste on with yoga can help reduce stress.
Also, in some cities like Los Angeles, animal shelters have started offering activities like yoga with cats, with proceeds going toward helping more homeless pets. You can get in your workout and your service time!
5. Release Resentments
Yoga, meditation, and other forms of stress-free psychology praise the act of letting go. This also applies to negative habits like harboring grudges or resentment.
Usually, when we are bothered, the problem lies within ourselves than with the person who is bothering us. After all, you can’t control other people. You can only control your response to them.
Even if your negative thoughts toward someone feel justified, they’re harming you on a neurological level by preventing the release of oxytocin and instead raising your cortisol levels.
So do yourself a favor, and mend those personal and professional relationships with positivity and forgiveness. When necessary, eliminate toxic people from your life and surround yourself with team members who elevate you and your business.
The key to reducing stress is to be a leader that practices kindness and forgiveness. Grudges aren’t worth the harm you’re doing to yourself.
6. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Giving gratitude on a daily basis is a key way to shift your perspective and bring more positivity in your life.
Yes, you’ve got annoyances that probably plague your day-to-day: responsibilities you may not enjoy, challenges you’re struggling to overcome in your business.
But how often are you giving thanks for what’s going right, instead of just taking your success for granted?
While eliminating all of the stressors in our lives is impossible, we can still approach stress management in a more productive way to improve our lives, our health, and our businesses.