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How to cope with stress as an entrepreneur

Posted by Grace Townsley

May 9, 2022    |     4-minute read (639 words)

For many entrepreneurs and leaders, only a couple of things in business are absolutely certain: Taxes and stress. While we can’t help you eliminate your taxes, it is possible to minimize the stresses in your life. Or at least to retrain your brain to deal with those stresses in a healthier way. 

What exactly is stress?

The feeling of being stressed — racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, butterflies in your stomach, shallow breathing — that’s caused by a rush of adrenaline and cortisol in your body. They’re meant to prepare you for “fight-or-flight” when facing real danger. But in today’s business world, where your biggest physical threat is getting a papercut while opening an envelope, your stress response does more harm than good. 

Uncontrolled stress can take a serious toll on entrepreneurs. In the moment, a release of cortisol can block learning and memory, and impact your ability to regulate your emotions. That’s why a sudden stressor can make you feel immediately out of control. 

Over time, when your body is continually stressed, it begins to release more serious hormones, called glucocorticoids. These hormones impair your immune system, cause chronic fatigue, raise your blood pressure, and can lead to mental health problems and substance abuse. 

In short, stress is largely unnecessary in today’s work environment. It’s a natural response that actually does more harm than good to your body. If left unchecked, it can begin to damage your body from the inside out, further impacting your ability to lead and do your best work. 

How to cope with stress in a healthier way

While stressful living may be the norm for many business leaders and entrepreneurs, it isn’t a job requirement! These quick tips can help you manage your stress and retrain your brain to respond to stress in a better way: 

Be mindful. Remind yourself of where you are, what you’re doing, and why it matters. Take a minute to step back and consider the broad picture. Take several slow, deep breaths, visualize your “happy place,” and focus on grounding yourself in the moment. Incredibly, a mindfulness exercise like this can take your body from a state of stress to relaxation in 60 seconds.

Encourage yourself. This may feel childish, but being compassionate and encouraging towards yourself goes a long way in managing your stress reaction. Remind yourself of where you are and how far you’ve come. Encourage yourself that you can handle whatever you’re facing, that you make wise decisions, and that you’re more than ready to conquer this challenge.

Work it out. Exercise is a powerful stress buster. Not only does it help combat anxiety, even a few minutes of exercise causes your body to release endorphins that improve your mental clarity and energy level. A quick walk at lunch or a 30-minute session before work can be effective ways to decrease your body’s stress reaction. 

Minimizing your reaction to stress has a number of benefits

Stress and fear cloud out our wise judgment. The consequences of these reactions, if left unchecked, can manifest themselves in a number of ways: Missing out on a fantastic opportunity, handling a workplace conflict poorly, making a less-than-optimal impulse decision, letting anxiety derail your presentation or meeting, and the list goes on. Not to mention the negative health effects of living under a cloud of constant stress. 

On the other hand, the positive benefits of eliminating unnecessary stress are endless: Better relationships, smarter decisions, increased creativity, the feeling of being well-rested, enhanced strength and physical well-being, and an overall greater sense of optimism. 

If you find yourself in a cycle of constant stress, try these tips this week. By clearing your brain and restoring your body’s balance, you just might break through barriers you’ve been facing for years. 

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