Stress! Everyone feels it. Everyone knows it. Everyone has dealt with it. Business owners are particularly susceptible to it! This week is #InternationalStressAwarenessWeek, so what better time than this to dig deeper into stress and educate ourselves.
We thought we'd share our learnings with you and hope this will really help you as a business owner! It's fascinating stuff.
But what is it?
Stress is simply the release of chemicals; we’re talking Cortisol, Norepinephrine and Adrenaline. Really though, it can be stripped down to fight or flight. Our bodies are being told to either stand up and fight the problem or get out of there as fast as we can. You might, then, be able to see how stress can be advantageous both in life in general, and within your role as a business leader. More on that in a moment...
First, let's look at what causes stress.
One of the main causes of stress is... drumroll please... work! Hands up, who is surprised? There have been a bunch of surveys on stress at work and if we dive into some results, we can find that a staggering 79% of people experienced stress at work on a regular basis. The other answers on the board were relationships, finances and bereavement.
Here at Inspire, we looked at the numbers for entrepreneurs and saw that 71% said they experienced high amounts of stress.
We believe this is because entrepreneurship is fairly fast-paced and as entrepreneurs, we tend to like to give ourselves challenges on a frequent basis!
It’s who we are, and brings excitement and adventure into our lives, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Trying new things, breaking new markets and building new ventures is challenging, and entrepreneurial small business owners feel the weight of responsibility for making all the decisions. Having to hold ourselves accountable for both good and bad outcomes can be draining.
Juggling all aspects of business is hard work and the list seems endless – admin, sales, marketing, finance, strategy, scaling, customer relations, production, shipping, cyber security, supplier relations...until you scale, you’re doing most of this yourself, and it can feel overwhelming at times.
Too much pressure causes stress
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) did a Labour Force Survey in 2020 concluding that the main work-related stressors are the workload with too much work pressure, too much responsibility and tight deadlines playing significant roles. And these pressures, responsibilities and deadlines are just as prevalent for business owners as for employees, if not more so. Looks like our theory was right.
So let’s take a step back and look at the good and the bad sides of stress.
Why stress can be good
In small doses, stress acts as a motivator. It adds a sense of pressure to tasks, so we are more inclined to complete them.
If we go back in time, that task might have been a matter of survival (in some cases, it may still be) but we can also harness it to step out of our comfort zones and push ourselves to accomplish the things that are important to us. This can be a great boost for your business. Stress keeps us on our toes and pressing forward, otherwise we might be tempted by complacency, and that’s not good for business for many reasons!
Research shows that stress can also give a temporary boost to your brain, improving cognitive abilities and memory; but much like when you treat yourself to an extra morning coffee, the assistance is temporary and soon you will crash, become exhausted and mentally weakened.
So stress is useful! But it's not all sunshine and roses. Let's look at the thorns.
Why stress can be damaging
Stress can have some undesirable physical effects on your body when experienced in excess, including high blood pressure, fertility issues and even a weakened immune system to name a few (scary stuff!).
Healthline has provided a full list of the effects stress can have on your body, which you can view here. Of course, stress also affects your mental state. When overstressed it becomes harder to remain in control of your emotions, you can become irritable and react in ways that don’t truly represent you as a person, which can cause strain on relationships in both a personal and business sense.
Both anxiety and depression can be developed due to stress and if you already suffer from either, they can worsen. A 2018 survey indicated that 58% of entrepreneurs experience mental health issues; if you are one of these people then we ask you to remain mindful of stress so that you can live a happier and healthier life as best you can.
If you are feeling stressed out, it is not the end of the world and there are steps you can take to reduce and deal with stress.
So, without further ado, we're pleased to present:
How to deal with stress!
So there you have it, our top tips for dealing with stress. Your business is important, but so are you. Look after yourself and we wish you the best of luck!
If you'd like to join our community and join with other business owners who aim to support one another on their journeys, come and get involved! Many members say our Block-Busting sessions (available included within our low-cost £10 monthly membership fee) has been really helpful in reducing stress - so why not give it a go. Check it out here: www.theinspirenetwork.co.uk/membership