How to Handle the Stress and Anxiety of Starting a New Business
~ by Patrick Bailey ~
Entrepreneurship is a like facing a journey without knowing what to expect. Many business owners find themselves feeling a myriad of emotions–excitement, overwhelming passion, and positivity. However, when the storms of small (and big) losses hit you, you may find yourself in a position of self-doubt accompanied with bouts of anxiety and extreme stress.
As you face the challenges ahead as a new entrepreneur, read about the ways you can reduce the stress and anxiety when starting a business venture.
How stressed are entrepreneurs?
Some people would be quick to think that the entrepreneurial journey is a quick way to financial and lifestyle freedom. Little do they know that entrepreneurs can sometimes be more stressed than regular employees! In a recent study, it was found that a whopping 45% of business owners said they are stressed, which was 3 percentage points higher than those who are employed. There’s a saying that goes: “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when they are tired. They finish when the job is done.”
When you are an entrepreneur, you are answerable to the growth and direction of your business. You cannot blame other people for the decisions that you make. You have to create the strategies to generate revenue, while still maintaining the well-balanced operations that go behind the curtains. These combination of stressors can bring so much anxiety that it is possible for entrepreneurs to experience mental breakdowns, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Here are some of the specific results of extreme entrepreneur anxiety.
When you constantly think of issues relating to your business and carry them in your thoughts throughout the day, they may even follow you even as you sleep. As an entrepreneur, it is important to have restful sleep. Having adequate and peaceful sleep can help you make better decisions, reduce your irritability, and give you enough energy to power through the day. Having insomnia or an inability to sleep can worsen negative moods and may even be a large factor for depression and degenerative diseases such as stroke or heart disease.
As an entrepreneur, you must expect to have highs and lows in your journey. However, some low points in your business-building may be so deep-down that it’s hard for you to compartmentalize your personal thoughts from the worries about your business.
Signs of depression for entrepreneurs may be the desire to constantly isolate oneself from others, lack of motivation to do even the simplest of daily tasks, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you are experiencing these signs, it is best to seek help immediately. You can call a hotline, or consult a women’s rehab if you are having substance-abuse related depression.
Degenerative health problems
Stress kills! Although it may seem that being stressed appears to be the norm for people who hustle, it shouldn’t be for you. A medical study showed that stress is attributed to many health problem such as diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, and neurological issues.
In periods of chronic stress, your brain sends signals to your body to keep on creating stress hormones, known as cortisol. The constant bombardment of cortisol in the body makes your immune system numb since it is now used to receiving stress hormones. Thus, when possible infections threaten your body, you may be more susceptible of contracting them due to a weakened immune system.
When you can’t make proper decisions, can’t manage your business properly, and can’t even get dressed to show up, guess what happens to your business? It may ultimately fail. Being overwhelmed with stress and anxiety doesn’t just hurt your body, it can also hurt your business. This can lead to a vicious cycle of more stress and anxiety, which can even bring greater health and wellness problems.
Given these staggering effects, what are some ways to prevent stress and anxiety as a business owner?
Ways to handle stress as a business owner
Incorporate physical activity in your schedule.
Being too busy to squeeze in 20-30 minutes of your time to exercise is never an excuse. Exercise presents so many benefits that help reduce stress and improve your overall wellness. People who spend time exercising at least 20 minutes a day 3-5 times a week are reported to have better moods, stronger immune systems, and a better physique–who wouldn’t want that?
When you are a beginner in exercise, it is better to start slow and gradually build your way. You can start by having a 20-minute walk on the first week of your workout routine, then moving on to a 20-minute brisk walk and jog on the following weeks. Whatever you can put in time for physical activity, do so. It can significantly improve your health and keep away stress hormones even in your busy schedule.
Are you the controlling boss archetype, someone who micromanages everything to the dot? Perhaps this may be the cause of your stress. In order to reduce your anxiety over starting a new business, you need to focus on your strengths and delegate other tasks to people who can do it better. When delegating, ask yourself these three questions:
- What are tasks that only I can do, and no one else?
- What are the tasks that can be given to outsourced workers for a reasonable price?
- What are tasks that I enjoy and are important to make my business move forward?
As you ask yourself these questions, you will find yourself categorizing those tasks which should be your priority, and other activities that can be passed on to others. Nobody succeeded working alone. As you grow your business, you will realize that it takes a community to build an empire.
Make time for yourself
The principle of wear and tear is not only found in manufacturing–it can also be applied towards people. Like equipment, our bodies are also functioning mechanisms. When you keep on abusing your body to the point that it never finds time to rest, it will also inevitably break down.
Notice that the term “make” is used and not “find”. Making time for yourself means setting aside an actual schedule for it – whether you plan to have a restful nap, a fun and relaxing vacation, or to simply eat out and enjoy life’s simple moments. It is not just scraping off the left-over time in your schedule. You should prioritize yourself. Living a fulfilling life is not always about financial success–sometimes it’s all about finding balance in caring for yourself and reaching your goals.
Planning in advance can help reduce stress, and this is not just based on experience. More planning can aid in helping entrepreneurs meet their goals, as it helps them create structure and organization within the details of their business.
Procrastination is a common habit of people who often experience anxiety – this is because of the tasks that pile up that need to be done within a smaller time frame closer to the deadline. When entrepreneurs plan ahead, their bodies and minds can anticipate what is to come, therefore reducing the stress that comes with tight schedules and crazy workloads.
Manage your stress, manage your business
Your mental health and overall wellness should be the utmost priority as an entrepreneur. Without it, you can’t make sound business choices – which prevents you from reaping the rewards of what you worked hard for. As you consider these simple guidelines, know that as you manage your stress levels, it can also help you manage your business even better.