Entrepreneurs are masters of irregular work hours, diet, and sleep schedules. There are deadlines to meet, people to interact with, business propositions that are to be made, and all the while, juggling a decent work-life balance. So, the moment there appears to be a lag in what was expected, that faithful headache creeps up unknowingly. There are moments where you feel faint despite having a filling meal just an hour ago. Sleep is no longer in your control, but rather has a mind of its own, where it chooses to either keep you up at night or make you oversleep by canceling the sound of the alarm clock on your desk. You seem to be fidgety and cannot put your mind and thoughts to focus. And there are those unlucky ones, whose blood pressures fluctuate or are even on a sugar-free diet. Currently, the body is responding to a stimulus that is changing the state of physiological equilibrium. Different parts of the body react differently to this little intruder, which is commonly known as stress.
Hans Selye, a medical doctor and researcher, gave a theory of stress which spans across three stages. The stages were alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Over the duration of these stages, there is usually a different yet important set of changes that take place psychologically, and physiologically. The first stage is known to increase the secretion of a stress hormone called Cortisol, and an increase in heart rate. The second stage is resistance, which releases a lower amount of cortisol, and blood pressure and heart rate begins to normalize. This is the body’s way of repairing itself after the initial shock of stress. Signs of this stage are irritability, frustration, and low concentration. If the second stage continues for too long, it leads the body to the third and final stage, exhaustion. At this stage, the body is physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, with high fatigue levels, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is when individuals start experiencing the syndrome known as burnout, that they have reached the stage of exhaustion.
Now, being an entrepreneur in this competitive world is a form of bravery, where each person is driven by the need to achieve. There are a lot of issues at stake, starting from one’s health, productivity, creativity, energy, money, and even social relations. Stress is a commonly uttered word in this circle. And a major blow to the economy, like the one caused by the COVID- 19 lockdown, has toppled quite a few businesses. Stress is around every corner, and an aspirational entrepreneur has or needs to find a way to fight this dragon, without losing a grip on their functioning, and not indulging in self-destructive behaviours. Starting one’s own business requires a lot of optimism and courage, and hence entrepreneurs should bear in mind these qualities even when they are facing immense amounts of stress. Apart from that, there are some practical, and easy to follow stress management techniques which are beneficial for entrepreneurs, and some can be used even before or after a stressful situation.
- Creating a plan
When starting with a new day, or a week, or even a month, it is helpful to list out the objectives and important decisions that are to be taken. This allows for better preparedness, thus eliminating the surprise factor, as well as leaving enough time and space for a sudden and/or urgent decision.
- Maintain a finance list
Having a business means a regular flow of money, both inwards and outwards. Ensure you have a detailed list of all expenses and earnings. Also, keep an emergency fund which you know is enough to keep you afloat till you work around a different business model.
- Following a routine
Right from the moment you wake up, to the moment you sleep, try and follow a routine. This ensures a workable daily schedule, that includes enough sleep, food at the right times, and enough time to work. Make sure to include business meetings in the work column, so that your family time or self-time does not suffer a loss.
Sitting on a chair at work, or a transport seat, only helps in aiding low health. Ensure you have at least half an hour of physical workouts on your routine. When under stress, exercise helps regulate blood circulation and breathing. It is also a good way to release the work stress by sweating it all out.
- Maintain a gratitude list
For those sudden moments where you might start recollecting about the drawbacks and failures, make a mental list of all things that were possible because of your persistence and failure to give up. Coordinate this with a breathing exercise, and drink some water after you are done.
The most common form of stress management, meditating for even ten minutes is enough to offer a fresher perspective, and it helps to calm down the bodily systems to a balance. Most successful entrepreneurs swear by yoga and meditation to be the reason behind their positive outlook and optimism, as well as good health.
- Take regular breaks
Most entrepreneurs easily reach a stage of burnout because they overworked. This leads to a decline in creativity and productivity, ultimately hitting the entrepreneur’s business. Hence, it is very beneficial that there are proper breaks and vacations during a work month, Overworking can even lead to higher chances of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
- Work delegation
Distributing work between members of a team helps reduce work pressure, ultimately leading to lower stress levels. Work delegation even adds to greater productivity and creativity levels.
Stress can be as deadly as a heart attack if given the chance. There is a lot of commitment in trying to handle stress, to manage it. Successful entrepreneurs are individuals who are able to manage a business, employees, clients, and their own stress levels, while successfully attaining a work-life balance, and a healthy physiological system. Stress management techniques could be the gray, while stuck in a period of black and white.
If you feel like you’re in need of professional help to manage your stress, please do not hesitate to get it. There are several services in India that provide online counseling for stress management. We also recommend Heart It Out, which provides affordable online one-on-one therapy sessions with therapists, as well as group therapy sessions with peers where people experiencing different forms of stress can come together, share, and learn from each other.