It’s no secret that being an entrepreneur is stressful. You deal with employees, partners, and the weight of your business’s success all at once, so when something particularly stressful arises in your personal life, such as death, divorce, or another significant life event, it may seem like too much to handle. You may feel like there just isn’t enough time to deal with your personal stress or be so distracted with personal matters that you can’t focus on your work efficiently. As In the Light Urns notes, grieving comes in many forms, but it always presents challenges.
Everyone deals with personal stress at some point, and many small business owners have overcome those hurdles. So, how do those successful entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and fight through these personal stressors?
Coping Strategies for Business Stress
These are some of the most popular and effective coping strategies for entrepreneurs:
Recognize your stress. According to INSERM, ignoring signs of stress is likely to make your stress symptoms even worse. It may seem like pretending your stress isn’t there is an easy way to work past it, but in the long run, this approach will leave you much worse off. The physical effects will be greater, and you’ll never properly process your emotions. Instead, acknowledge that your stress is real and that it’s affecting not only your performance but your health.
Take time off. When your business is on the verge of growing, the last thing you want to do is take time off. However, it’s the right thing to do if your stress is negatively impacting your performance. Think of the time off as an investment; you’ll lose some time in the short term, but you’ll come back feeling much better—and preventing the possibility of far worse consequences.
Ask for help. It’s hard to deal with your stress alone—and being a business leader often comes with feelings of loneliness. Turn to your partners and co-workers for help, or turn to your family and friends. Often, all you have to do is ask for help, and people will be willing to give it to you. If you feel like there’s nobody to help you out, consider professional counseling. The American Psychological Association has a fantastic list of resources for help coping with stress.
Delegate your work. Even if you do have to work, you can take measures to reduce or rearrange your workload to better suit your capabilities. Consider hiring someone part-time, or hiring a freelancer to help assume some of your responsibilities. You’ll be able to work shorter shifts with lighter workloads until you’re feeling better. It’s not as beneficial as taking time off, but it’s also easier to manage. Trust that the rest of your team is capable of getting things done—after all, you’re the one who hired them.
Realize your limitations. Don’t overextend yourself. Trying to process stress by working harder will take its toll on your body, and convincing yourself to go into work when you need a day off can make matters worse. Study your emotions and your physical responses, and learn to recognize when you’re nearing your limit. The more self-aware you are in this area, the better.
Don’t expect instant or straightforward recovery. According to a study by Michigan Technological University, men and women handle stress in different ways, and individual personality factors may also affect how you deal with stress. Dealing with grief is a similarly complex process. You can’t expect your recovery from personal stress to conform to the conventional standards of recovery, nor can you expect it to be done within a given timeframe. No single formula defines how stress functions, nor is there a single strategy that works best for everyone. Be prepared for anything.
Finding the Right Balance
Processing grief and stress isn’t about following a checklist or waiting for things to pass. It’s about finding the right collection of strategies and approaches that work for you as an individual. Taking the time for introspection and committing to getting the help you need are the first steps in the process. Without them, you may end up dealing with your stress in an unhealthy way, or growing frustrated that a strategy isn’t working. It may not come fast or easy, but it’s always possible to deal with your stress and remain a successful, profitable business owner.