A conversation with a dear friend reminded me that April is Stress Awareness Month. Initially, I chuckled at the thought. Small business owners seldom need a reminder of the ongoing stress associated with business. As my internal laughter subsided, the magnitude of a month designated to make us aware of the degree of stress we experience -- and steps to reduce it -- isn't all bad.
Stress: A Small Business Owner's Constant Companion
Technology, intended to make our lives easier, is overwhelming. Cash flow, or the lack of, influences performance. Workload, even during times of positive growth, can be crushing.
It goes with the territory.
Stress is a chemical reaction that occurs when we feel threatened. It's the "fight or flight" imbedded in our DNA that served our ancestors well in more challenging times.
A little stress is good. It serves as a catalyst for tackling projects and meeting timelines. But, too much... and we're caught in a vicious cycle of diminishing returns.
Stress symptoms are as varied as the causes. They range from subtle to striking. Stress shows up as agitation, moodiness, overwhelm, avoidance, and procrastination. Or, it can be more pronounced as fatigue, headache, forgetfulness, insomnia, and heart palpitations.
What's really frightening is that stress at work could take up to 33 years of your life.
No matter the manifestation, it's important to raise awareness to recognize the expressions of stress common to you.
Stress Reduction: An Inside Job
Frankly, I wish I could purchase "stress reduction" with Amazon Prime or outsource it using Upwork. However, reducing stress -- its causes and symptoms -- is really an internal operation.
Although Google is flush with stress reduction techniques, small business owners remain frazzled. We've yet to challenge the core solution to stress. And, until we do so, other stress management techniques are like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.
To achieve sustainable stress reduction:
- Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. It's paying attention on purpose, suspending all judgment of good or bad, right or wrong. It's objective, neutral thinking that eliminates the emotional reactions that contribute to stress.
Supplement whatever triggers stress with more than is necessary. For instance, if cash flow is producing tension, design (and achieve) a plan to generate more cash than is needed. When you have more to accomplish than time in a day, a strategy that results in more time than to-dos eases the release of stress hormones into your blood stream.
Yes, it is true -- we've met the enemy and it is us.
Isn't it time to stop letting stress dictate your business strategy? Take back control, kick stress to the curb and redirect your energy into accelerating your business growth.
The One Cutback Every Small Business Owner Needs first appeared on Synnovatia's small business growth blog.