Running your own small business is very fulfilling but it also comes with its own complexity and challenges which can be very stressful. Stress is often dismissed as a natural part of small business ownership and simply just part of an average work day. While a small amount of stress can be helpful to motivate you, when it becomes unmanageable then it is a problem.

Some of the stressors for small business owners include:

  • Managing cash flow
  • Lead generation
  • Heavy workload
  • Time management/deadlines
  • Loneliness
  • Work/life balance

It is important to recognise the warning signs of stress and have strategies in place to minimise stress.

Common signs of stress:

These signs may be noticed by yourself or others.

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Teary and melancholic
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Fatigue
  • Eating more or less
  • Disinterest
  • Negative self-talk/pessimism
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

10 tips to stress less for small business owners:

1. Practice self-care

Your health must be your priority. Relax, sleep well, eat healthily and ensure you take good care of yourself. When you feel good you manage stress so much better.

2. Learn to say no

Over committing is a very common reason for stress. Don’t take on more than you can manage, be realistic and it really is ok to say no.

3. Be ok with imperfection

The pursuit of perfectionism, having unrealistic goals and standards is a contributor to stress. If you have a tendency toward perfectionism, learn to be ok with good enough.

4. Take regular breaks

A simple but effective way to de-stress. Make sure at least every couple of hours you take a break. Stop what you’re doing, stretch, walk around, go outside, make a cup of tea.

5. Focus on what you can control

Accept what you cannot change, shift your attention from the problem to finding a solution and learn how to manage negative emotions.

6. Accept your limitations

Accepting your limitations is NOT giving up. It’s about accepting what you cannot currently do. Remember we are all human each with different strengths. Focus on your strengths and get assistance for any shortcomings.

7. Ask for help

When you’ve reached your limit or even starting to feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Whether that is to just talk through an issue, get advice or have somebody else take over a task.

8. Create realistic schedules

Prevent feeling overloaded by being realistic about how much work you can get done in a given period of time. Being unrealistic will not help you or your business.

9. Get active

It is likely you have experienced how exercise is a wonderful stress release. Even a little bit of exercise can make a big difference in relieving stress. Make sure exercise is part of your stress management plan.

10. Be thankful

The way we perceive events/circumstances affects our mood. Observing what is great in your life and business (even when life is chaotic and stressful) is a sure-fire way to lift your mood which in turn has a calming effect.

If stress is getting on top of you, seek professional help.

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Stress to Calm: Stress management for small business owners

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