Running a small- or medium-sized enterprise (SME) often requires the business owner to manage different work tasks and workloads, and wear several hats all at once. This can sometimes be overwhelming, giving rise to work-related stress that can possibly bring about serious problems if not properly attended to or mitigated.
Consider the following ways to lessen, if not altogether avoid, work-related stress:
- Spot work stress symptoms as soon as you can
- Automate and delegate
- Increase your daily physical activity
- Pay attention to your diet
Spot work stress symptoms as soon as you can
Some of the worse symptoms of work-related stress include, but are not limited to, headaches, insomnia, irritability, anxiety and depression. If not attended to, work-related stress can develop into chronic stress, which can cause some long-lasting damage to your brain.
Thus, it is imperative that you are aware of the most common work-related stress symptoms so you would be able to spot them right away, avoid their triggers, and ultimately avoid getting too stressed out.
We divide these common work stress symptoms into four groups (note, however, that some of these symptoms are identified in some if not all of the groups) basing on how stress affects the mind and body: emotional, psychological, behavioural and physical.
Irritability, mood swings, intense feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem and depression are some of the many symptoms of stress under the emotional category.
Memory loss/issues, impaired judgement, inability to focus one’s thoughts on a certain idea or subject matter and anxiety are several of the symptoms under the psychological category.
Poor sleeping patterns or the inability to get any sleep, neglect of responsibilities, eating problems and disorders, and drug and/or alcohol abuse consist the many symptoms under the behavioural category.
Stress, of course, can manifest physically and can cause adverse feelings of being ill, with symptoms including but are not limited to headaches, nausea, muscle pains, and the flare-up of pre-existing health/medical conditions.
Being able to spot these symptoms right away, much more being able to awarely brace for their “head-on, full impact” can help you lessen their ill effects, if not altogether terminating the stressor and ultimately avoiding getting stressed.
Of course, these symptoms can also be of other health conditions, so you need to still see your doctor or a relevant medical/health professional to ascertain your condition and be given proper medical attention and/or treatment.
Automate and delegate
It is a given that being a business owner or manager is tough. You wear and are expected to wear a number of different hats, often simultaneously. Not only that, you are also expected to excel and deliver in each and every one of these roles you perform and execute. Thus, stress is a real thing in your trade and has almost become the norm.
So what can you do to minimise work-related stress? Technology. You are lucky that in today’s time you have modern technological tools that are readily accessible to assist you in conveniently performing your roles. Software and electronic applications abound—thousands of them—for you to choose from.
Software solutions, especially electronic and mobile applications, provide a range of services and assistance to make your work as business owner and manager easier and faster. These applications cover staff scheduling, payroll and spreadsheets, budget and financial projections, employee performance standardisations and matrixes, among other important tasks. Remember, however, to only pick and use the ones you really need, as these electronic solutions can also cause more issues—and yes, more stress—if not properly utilised.
Besides software and electronic solutions, you can also reduce stress by delegating some of your roles and workload to your staff. Most SME owners and managers still think that hiring employees, especially in the beginning stages of their businesses, isn’t very realistic, but most of the time this isn’t true. If you cannot handle everything on your own and tasks are piling up and taking too much of your time and energy, then it’s probably best to hire someone who can assist you. If this is not possible, then consider outsourcing some of your tasks or workload to a part-timer or off-location staff.
Delegation is an important skill you need to learn and master if you want to make sure all tasks are being satisfactorily done and completed, and ultimately, if you aspire to grow your business. When your business begins thriving, you will need to hire more people anyway, so even before this happens, it won’t hurt for you to learn and master the art and skill of delegation now. In the long run, it will help you not only complete individual tasks and activities successfully, but also open more opportunities for business and financial growth—as well as, yes, reduce stress while you’re at it.
Increase your daily physical activity
Multiple studies have proven that consistent daily physical activity does indeed help in the reduction of stress. Increasing your daily physical activity, however, doesn’t mean you need to spend hours after hours in the gym. Any type of physical activity you engage in, like running, swimming, or even taking a long walk after work all help reduce stress. You can even take a 10-minute break at work to do some stretching.
It is also a myth—although yes, sometimes we think it feels like it—that if you’re already tired after work, doing any physical activity will make you even more exhausted. This is not the case, and this is not true. Engaging in physical activities help you increase your endorphin levels. Endorphins are neurotransmitters the brain produces that make a person feel better. This means that you don’t actually feel tired and low after some swimming or running or even stretching, you will feel even better. Of course, take care never to overdo yourself and your chosen physical activity. Here, moderation and a keen sense of self (what you can and still cannot do) are still key.
Pay attention to your diet
Let’s get one thing out of the way once and for all: eating healthy doesn’t need to be expensive, and it also doesn’t require much of your time and effort. You only need to be more aware of what you eat.
Many business owners and managers get buried deep into their work that they begin neglecting their diet, or worse, they engage in stress-eating. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.
Seek out foods high in fiber, low in bad cholesterol—or simply, fruits and vegetables, really. Mom’s “if it goes bad, it’s good for you” rule applies here, no matter how overused it gets. It’s also not only what you eat but also how you eat your meals. Smaller meals are better during the most stressful of days, as they help you stabilise your energy levels and antes up your mental and physical endurance for both mentally and physically challenging tasks and/or activities.
Also, starting your day with a healthy and balanced breakfast is still one of the best ways to ensure your body gets what it needs to keep up with the demands of professional life and other unavoidable stressors.