Stress is Not in Your Job Description
Whether you’re a business leader or entrepreneur, life can get stressful. More responsibility, more pressure, more exposure. Sometimes it can feel like we just have to put up with the stress that goes with it.
I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.
When you’re working at a senior level or you’re the CEO of your own show, you’ll have decisions to make, you’ll have a wide portfolio of responsibilities and the stakes will be higher for business.
As an entrepreneur, that business is all you, it’s probably your ‘other’ baby, it’s important to you and you too have big decisions make, busy workload, wide ranging responsibilities and the stakes are high for your success.
But that doesn’t have to mean feeling stressed. It doesn’t mean you’ve signed up for:
- Working all hours
- Trying to solve every problem you see
- Panicky and anxious thoughts
- Feeling out of control
- No time doing the things you love
Is Stress Good or Bad?
How we treat ourselves can have an enormous impact on how we cope we pressure and challenge. Some stress is good. As humans, we’re hardwired to experience and respond to stress, it gets us going and feeling alive. In fact, when it’s not extreme or provoking anxiety, another word for stress is adrenaline.
On the other hand, stress tells us that we’re in imminent danger, and we need to fight or flee to save ourselves. Our ancient DNA hasn’t caught up with the fact that a deadline or a deal isn’t out to kill us. It can result in us feeling overwhelmed, out of control, unhappy and unconfident in our work and our lives.
So stress is both good and bad for us! That doesn’t mean we just have to put up with it. It doesn’t have to have negative affects and hold us back from having our dream job or reaching our goals. So here’s what you can do with that stress, quickly, easily to take control.
My 4 Quick Stress Tips
This isn’t a quick trick to learn – it takes concerted effort, and often support from a coach or accountability buddy. But a good place to start is with three deep breaths. The act of remembering to breathe deeply into your belly will take you away from the anxiety in your head, ground you in the present moment and release feel-good chemicals which counter-balance the stress chemicals. It is not a magic wand, but it will help you from spiralling into a stress panic.
Stress tells us that everything is urgent and has to be dealt with now! That’s because it used to be that a tiger or bear was coming to eat you! Nowadays, that is not the case. Spend a few minutes each morning identifying the projects and activities that are truly urgent or have the biggest priority. Doing the biggest thing first means your energy and brain power it as it’s best, so you work more efficiently. Then, give yourself to permission to set aside, (or delegate – see below!) some of the other things on your list.
When we’re stressed we can feel like we’re the only ones able to do what we do – the ‘if you want a job doing properly you have to do it yourself’ mentality. The truth is, you and your business will be more effective, more stable, and more successful if you allow other people to take on some of the load.
If you’re in an organisation, review your portfolio of work and see what can be managed or implemented by others. If you’re an entrepreneur, what can you outsource? Taking the time to review your workload and share it will mean you can focus on the things you’re truly good at and enjoy. When you get a sense of achievement this also releases more of those feel good chemicals too.
Getting outside for a walk each day, even for five minutes, does three things:
- It changes your environment, helping you step back from the stress and see there isn’t a sabre-toothed tiger at the door
- It gets your body moving, helping to release tension and increases the feel-good chemicals. Change your pace and swing your arms and legs to ground yourself more fully in your body
- It forces you to take some time out. It creates space in your head, so you can think more clearly, work more effectively. Ideally, do something that helps you relax or get space for longer, but I defy anyone to say they can’t find five minutes (even if it’s just to grab a sandwich)!
William James, American psychologist said:
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
I wonder if you think that success has to mean stress too? Have I helped you question that assumption? I’d love to find out what your strategies are for dealing with stressful situations!