Dealing with the stresses of running your own business and maintaining the much sought-after work life balance can be one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Although stress is considered part and parcel of modern working life, as a business owner, it’s important to focus on ways to reduce it, so you and your business can remain healthy.
Neil Shah is the Director of The Stress Management Society and author of The 10-Step Stress Solution. We asked him to share his advice on how to manage stress effectively.
- Take breaks
Schedule breaks and downtime into your working day as you would with any important business meetings. The demands on the time of any business owner can be overwhelming and if not controlled can result in an unnecessary increase in your working hours.
Neil explains that taking time out should be an integral part of your business plan, “Time taken resting and recovering is as important as the dealings within your business or workplace. Make sure you have regular breaks, stay well hydrated, eat well and exercise. All of this can help to keep you focused.”
- Realise the power of delegation
Business owners are often guilty of attempting to take on too much by themselves. Giving responsibilities to others can be a tough call but it often makes more sense to relinquish some control to others so you can focus on high priority tasks.
“Dealing with stress is all about increasing your resilience. You should look to remove some of the unnecessary pressure and distribute that load effectively.” says Neil
By taking on a more manageable workload and moving the less important tasks out of your schedule, you create more time for meaningful activity and take a huge weight off your shoulders in the process.
- Start a culture of wellbeing
You and your employees are a major asset to your business, so ensure that wellbeing is included as a part of your business strategy. Studies by BUPA healthcare reported that three quarters of SMEs leaders who have had an employee take a long sickness leave reported a significant impact on the growth of their company1.
“Many small businesses just don’t have time to implement wellbeing but if you and your employees aren’t in a good state then there will be more mistakes, illness and a whole host of tangible business challenges. People are so important in small businesses as the impact of one or two being off with stress is huge.” explains Neil.
Looking after your workforces’ wellbeing and paying attention to stress levels and pressure can help you maintain a productive and creative workplace.
“It’s about being proactive, getting feedback and engaging your employees about their experiences and then taking a structured approach to dealing with it.”
- Switch off!
No matter what business you are in, technology means that it is now possible to be in contact with your customers and suppliers almost constantly but Neil warns that technology can increase stress so that there is no time for rest, “We live in an ‘always on’ society, small business owners in particular find that they never switch off from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep. You should unplug on a daily basis and enjoy some time with the people you care about or time to yourself – it’s so important to have human connections.”
Technology can also be extremely beneficial to your business in the right quantities. There are a plethora of apps and websites which can help to manage your time and streamline tasks which would previously have taken hours out of your day.
- Manage time and prioritise workloads
Although you may not want to turn down work, increasing your workload to an unmanageable amount will only cause more stress in the long term.
“Remove some of the pressure by not taking on too much and prioritising tasks.” adds Neil
Order your tasks by importance and ensure that your focus is only on a certain amount of jobs per day. It’s important to learn to say no and to properly manage your priorities to avoid becoming overwhelmed or over committed.