Running a business is stressful. And you need creativity to thrive. Stress can be managed. In this blog, I suggest a few ways you can keep on top of it and start to turn things around in your business.
Something that has come up time and again is the stress of running a business that is in need of help. Let's face it, if a business is doing really well, many business owners don't reach out for business or marketing mentoring and consultancy.
Stress is a silent killer. It releases the hormone cortisol and it plays havoc with your body. Making your insulin malfunction, reducing growth hormone and generally messing with your sleep, your brain, your recovery and your ability to make long term decisions.
Stress is great in short bursts and is useful (necessary even) at times. But, to get on top of our business, we need to know how to reduce stress so that it is not a constant.
Too much stress means you are unable to make the right decisions. And, more importantly, stress reduces your ability to think creatively and innovate in your business (something we help companies with every day). So, getting your stress levels down is key to the success of your Profit, Innovation and Leverage.
So, here's a very quick list (in no particular order) of some ways you can relieve stress.
About 400mg a day is good. Anything more can be dangerous (yes it can)... Dr Nick Hall has an amazing Audio Book called, "I Know What to Do, So Why Don't I Do It?: The New Science of Self-Discipline". It goes into this an a whole lot more about stress, motivation, sleep, discipline etc. I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is well worth it.
As obvious as it may seem, get some structure and sanity back into your body. You are what you eat. You know what to do. Get a handle on it rapidly. Bad diet (i.e. too much sugar, carbs and cake) is probably causing inflammation and brain fog. If you can't get on top of it right away, do a 'fast' (see below). Stress reduces our ability to maintain discipline so grabbing a bean, sausage and cheese bake from Greggs every time you visit that client in town has to stop. Trust me, I speak from experience. Man, I loved those bakes.
You neeeeeeeed to sleep. I know you may be waking up at 3am with heart palpitations, and we all know that's not good for you. If you really can't sleep because you are so worried, then go for a vigorous run (or any form of cardio or resistance training). Don't slug down some coffee and start working either. Sleep is when you renew. Sleep is when you get your growth hormone back. Sleep is when your brain has time to chew. Don't use alcohol to drugs to help you sleep. Ever. If you can't sleep, do some meditation (I recommend the app "Headspace"), hypnosis or just get up and exercise. And, most of all, don't stress about not sleeping, because the more you worry about it, the less you will sleep. Ironic indeed. So, set a fixed/regular time you will go to bed. Switch off your devices/screens/TVs etc. Read a real book, maybe. Or just do a hand written journal of your day. Or use the time to jot down bits and stuff you have to do to clear you mind.
You may have noticed that there are very few over-weight successful entrepreneurs. Now, you may be thinking that they have loads of time and money so they can afford to go to the gym and keep fit... and probably afford a personal trainer too. And a dietitian. Maybe even have their won chef. Sorry, but it was the other way round. They kept fit way before they made any money. A vigorous run, swim, row, cycle etc or some kind of circuit training is incredible for clearing your brain, relieving stress (even though it actually increases bodily stress in the short term) and getting you able to have the energy needed to get focus and achieve your goals. If you are stressed, down tools (or get up an hour earlier) and get those lungs bursting and the blood flowing.
Crazily, fasting has some really powerful effects on your health and body. Look up intermittent fasting or watch the BBC Horizon video on it "Eat, Fast and Live Longer". It actually increases your brains ability to think, sorts out your insulin and helps you heal. Enjoy.
Seriously, it isn't helping. It's creating a cycle of boom and bust in your body. I recommend fasting and then cutting out booze. Caffeine isn't such a big problem as long as you are not sucking up energy drinks or having caffienated drinks too late at night. Your sleep is so crucial. As an aside, cut out any sweeteners except Stivia. They ruin your gut biome and are worse than sugar in many ways. Many people use caffeine as a stimulant first thing in the morning before vigorous exercise. It can be a great start to the day.
Fear... or Fake Emotions Appearing Real is actually just your chimp brain creating disaster scenarios to try and protect you. A lot of the time, the things we worry about never even happen. We need to talk to ourselves (i.e. our chimp) and think it through. I always recommend "The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness" to my clients and in my courses. It is simply an incredible read. It will definitely alter your thinking.
One cause of stress is the endless stream of crazy shizzle that your brain is constantly thinking of. Find a way to brain dump and clear your mind. I use a dictaphone because (as far as I am aware) it is legal to use in your car as you are driving. I brain dump into it and then I either type out the stuff or save out the audio as MP3 files and use Dragon Naturally Speaking software to type it up for me. Brain clear... Nice.
Your fight and flight brain activity (mainly driven by your chimp brain) is all well and good. But it is a bit of a drama queen. And it is there to "fear" you into action. You are not going to die. Everything is solvable. Even if that means packing up and closing down the business. So what.. you tried. Failure is part of learning. Keep things in perspective and don't let your chimp ruin your ability to stay calm and take rational actions. There are no saber toothed tigers awaiting you if you muck up. So don't let your chimp frighten you too much.
You only earn money if you get the work done at the right price and the right value and then invoice it... and get paid. Simple. Most businesses are in stress because they are not charging enough for their offering and/or they are not really delivering operationally (e.g. staff are letting them down). We help clients with this problem a lot. And the skill is to push all those money worries to one side and focus on doing an amazing job for the client ... and getting paid. As Tony Robbins says, "You get more of what you focus on.". If you are focussing on, "Why do I have no money? Why are my staff failing me?"... Guess what you will get more of.... Yep.... More of that !... Which is excactly what you don't want.
I just had to do a No. 11. There is this thing called "Emotional Contagion". Regretfully, it works 'downhill'. If you are around negative people or in negative environments, it doesn't matter how positive you are, you will get taken down (eventually) by the negativity. Surround yourself with nice people who encourage you (without being sycophantic) and ditch anyone who is causing distractions, being selfish, causing chaos, moaning, complaining or generally interfering with your ability to turn things around. They have to go. Even if it is just temporary. But they have to go while you recover.
So... try all the elements above and you should have the mental robustness and calm mind in order to make the right decisions, make fewer mistakes, focus on the right activity and put systems and processes in place which mean your business becomes a joyful challenge and not a stressful nightmare.
I hope the above list is a start. If you have any other ideas about how to relieve stress, or you think I have missed something out, why not email me and I will write about it.