Combating Workplace Stress as a Small Business Owner

Workplace stress is inevitable, especially when you are at the beginning of your startup or your small business. Remember the days when you were just a bright-eyed kid with a dream and—hopefully—a plan? Your business was your baby, your beautiful pride and joy that had just so much potential. You daydreamed of infusing your ambitions and all your hard earned knowledge into each exciting venture.

Yet, as time went on, work became, well, work. Where did the fun go? Now life is all schedules, deadlines, and, “when was the last time I slept?”

The workplace stress of running a small business comes with a dark temptress who steals all your time, your energy, and joy.

Certain levels of work stress are good; healthy even. The stress that gets us off our behinds to meet a deadline, the stress that causes us to advocate for our core beliefs, the stress that motivates us to push beyond our limits… all of these lead to making us better business owners and, let’s face it, better people!

However, workplace stress that causes us to work 80+ hours a week, neglect our bodies, and push away the people we love… this is stress cannibalized, and this cannibal will consume our entire lives if we let it!

Stress Management Techniques:

Thankfully, there are some simple stress management techniques which will help you reclaim balance between your personal and your professional life.

Stress Management Technique #1 – Acceptance

In a small business—of any endeavor really—we only hold a small percentage of the outcome in our hands. Our personal performance, effort, and self-control are the only aspects of our lives that we can truly change. The rest, we can simply influence.

The only part of our world that exists in a vacuum is the world itself. But we humans live on Earth, not in space. This means that we not only have to deal with outside influence, but we have to accept that there are often times we can’t deal with outside influence.

No matter how perfect your plan, clients, employees, other businesses, and acts of destiny will certainly come along to interrupt the machinery of the plan. While it is your job to put out the fire, there is only so much control you have.

Playing the “what if” game is only healthy in positive brainstorming sessions. Asking “what ifs” in the sense of chaos and calamity are a breeding ground for worry and defeat.

While it is important to proactively anticipate possible problems, there comes a point when every business owner—for the sake of their own sanity— needs to let go and have a little faith.

No one, not even a team of 100 brilliant people, can anticipate every problem.

Letting go of the need to control and accepting your power to influence current situations gives you the clarity of mind to proactively build towards your goals and calmly put out fires as you go along.

Stress Management Technique #2 – 478 Method

Accepting circumstances outside of our control is not a natural inclination for leaders—especially those with a deep sense of responsibility for their clients and employees. However, acceptance is the first step toward proactive problem-solving.

A powerful stress management tip for learning to accept and effectively handle current situations is the 478 breathing method. This is a breathing technique used by those who experience anxiety to even out their breathing, regulate their heart rate, and refocus their mind on the task at hand. It’s a form of meditation which can be performed while sitting, working, or lying still.

Basically, you inhale deeply through the nose and into your diaphragm for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and slowly release it out of your mouth for 8 counts. You repeat this 5-7 times—or until you are calm and objective in the situation—before returning to your task at hand.

This breathing method helps ground you in the present moment, offering your brain a chance to view the situation with a fresh dose of oxygen and calm. This offers clarity and gives you the opportunity to consider all factors, both logical and emotional.

Other grounding techniques that are effective are asking questions like:

What are 5 things I see?

What are 4 things I feel?

What are 3 things I hear?

What are 2 things I smell?

What is 1 thing I taste?

These questions help regulate the senses and bring you back to the moment.

By grounding yourself in the moment, you bring power back to yourself and move actively rather than reactively to successfully engage with the task at hand.

Stress Management Method #3 – Positive Focus

When coping with stress, attitude is everything. A positive—but realistic—attitude is key to accomplishing—and setting—proactive goals. Thinking positive begins in the mind, from posting motivational quotes around your office to replacing lies with truths.

Whatever works for you to stay positive, implement it.

Your positivity will not only bring life into the work you do, but it will breathe life into the people around you. A positive office is an office that lends itself to teamwork, friendship, and creativity-even for telecommuting employees. 

Stress Management Technique#4 – Have Fun!

Stress Management in the workplace sometimes is essential. Boosting morale around the office by cheering up a disheartened co-worker or playing board games or video games together during break times are excellent ways to develop relationships in the office. The more familiar you are with your team as people, the easier you’ll work together. This one of the easiest ways to deal with stress and interact with people.

Obviously, you need to keep your team on task. When they are at work, they should be working. But hosting a healthy company culture by promoting exercise, healthy eating, and employee appreciation and events will do wonders for having fun at work.

Not only will this boost productivity, but it will allow you to show your business a little love by bringing your team together.

Another way to deal with stress at work is to reinvigorate your business by introducing a passion project! What is a project that you or your team have been putting off but dying to get to? Get to it! Put other non-essential things on hold if need be!

As you begin pouring your heart and soul into this project, not only will morale be boosted but you’ll find yourself remembering why you began this incredible work in the first place.

This creativity and love will gush forth from this simple project into every aspect of your work. Soon, you’ll be that bright-eyed kid again, deeply in love with themselves and the work they do. Your passion inspires the passion of all those around you and helps you to move away from work-related stress.

Final thoughts on workplace stress

How to manage stress, is purely a mindset. Learning the physical exercises, organizational techniques, and psychological tools for managing stress at work is as simple as developing any other skill. Log, track, and celebrate your victories, big and small.

Make a list of passion projects that you can implement. Make an effort to get to know your employees on a personal level. Take care of your body. Make time for your family and friends. Take breaks. Your business should be working for you, not the other way around. Laugh. Live your life, and you’ll love your business.

Ashley Wilson
Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga
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Stress is something that is very difficult to manage so thanks for the above tips!

Ashley Wilson
Ashley Wilson

Thank you for the comment and good luck!

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