- Failing to manage stress has serious repercussions for the individual and for his or her company. Stress has negative effects emotionally, mentally and physically if not managed properly.
- Stress management can be achieved by maintaining a good work/life balance and promoting best business practices.
- With stress management tools in place, businesses will benefit from fewer sick days, increased productivity and lower turnover rates.
The challenges of owning a business aren't always about hiring employees or satisfying customers. Sometimes, the struggles are a little more personal. And usually, the end result is stress.
Learning how to deal with stress may be as important to your long-term business success as learning how to make a profit. In fact, failing to manage stress can kill you, past studies have demonstrated.
Yet stress and business ownership go hand in hand. In a 2011 survey of small business owners, 65% say they are almost always on the go, and only half said they had enough time to spend with their friends and family.
Discovering the ideal work-life balance
"Finding the right work-life balance and giving back to the community are top priorities," according to a statement from USBancorp, which conducted the survey.
However, creating that balance can be a real challenge, said Rosalie Moscoe, owner of Toronto-based Health in Harmony, a wellness consulting firm that specializes in helping workers deal with stress.
"When you're in your own business, there are many things to think about that you didn't have to worry about before," Moscoe told Business News Daily. "Making loan payments, spending your savings, no money coming in and all your money going out."
The personal struggles faced by small business owners are emotional, physical, mental and financial, Moscoe said.
There is little one can to do eliminate the issues that cause stress. You'll most likely be working more hours than you were before, you'll be overwhelmed and overworked. If you're just starting out, you may also find starting your own business is lonely, which can also cause stress, Moscoe said.
Dangers of on-the-job stress
The key to managing stress is keeping a good balance between work and home, even if you work long hours. Moscoe makes these suggestions:
- Set a schedule as if you were going to a regular job.
- Plan out your day in the morning.
- Be clear with yourself about your top priorities, and focus on the ones that are going to bring in business.
- Initially, focus on marketing your business; don't spend all of your time on administration.
- Keep reassessing your goals, and don't let things get away from you.
- Get help. Don't do it all yourself.
- Have a social support network of friends and family.
- Don't sacrifice relationships for your business.
- Get up early and go for a walk.
- Eat properly and not at your desk.
- Drink lots of water.
"You have to live like a normal person," Moscoe said.
What is stress management?
According to Mayo Clinic, stress management is "learning skills such as problem solving and time management, enhancing your ability to cope with adversity, improving personal relationships and practicing relaxation techniques." These skills allow the person to turn a stressful situation into a positive opportunity for growth and betterment. By learning how to handle stressors, you gain more control over your life and reactions.
Work can be a great source of stress for many, but you must learn how to fight back when the negative feelings become overwhelming. Each person may have his or her own approach to managing stress. Some may find deep breathing helpful, while others may need to take a short walk to regroup.
Better business management for fewer incidences of work stress
Just as important as carving out time for yourself is finding ways to manage your business that will result in less stress.
"Without organization and good management, the compressed time schedules associated with modern business can cause stress and make extraordinary demands on people," according to research by the Small Business Administration. "An effective management structure can reduce stress and channel the productive capacity of employees into business growth and profits."
Finding employees who can share your responsibilities will go a long way to reducing your stress, too.
"The heroic single leader is no longer congruent with the burdening demands of today's leadership," said J. Richard Hackman, professor of social and organizational psychology at Harvard University, in a recent study on shared leadership.
"The most important conditions for effective shared team leadership include a team that is a mature and reasonably bounded group," Hackman said. "They must know each other's strengths and weaknesses in order to identify who to go to for specific tasks. The second condition is being interdependent on one another for some specific shared purpose or goal."
Benefits of better managing stress
Moscoe also believes it's important to keep your focus on why you started your business in the first place.
"It's the hardest job in world," Moscoe said. "But you if you're in your own business, you'll feel you have control over how you're going to do it and that's the biggest factor in reducing stress."
Stress management is good for you and your business. Without managing stress among employees, staff may take more sick days and have lower productivity. According to the Wellness Council of America, stress management produces improved employee morale, fewer sick days, less employee turnover and a positive company culture. Provide trainings and wellness programs to help you and your employees learn strategies to best manage stress levels.