How to Wrestle Your Stress Monster
The stress of starting and growing your own business, coupled with other life issues like moving, getting a divorce, dealing with child care issues, and the sickness or death of a loved one can all push us over the edge of comfortably coping into a world of distress.
One day we think we are handling the stressors in our life reasonably well; the next day we collapse into a state of complete burnout.
More than finances, difficult clients, and spiraling workloads, stress can undermine your business and your life.
It can make you ill and impact your relationships and your ability to focus on your business.
One of the first physiologists to catalogue the true impact of stress in our lives was Dr. Hans Selye, an Australian Canadian who began to publish his research on stress in the 1950s.
He was the first expert to draw the public’s attention to a link between physical health and mental stress. His contention was that prolonged stress negatively impacted our body.
More recently I have become intrigued with the work of Dr. Esther Sternberg, director of research at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. A world-famous researcher, she has acquired an impressive reputation for her groundbreaking work on how our central nervous system and immune system interact.
In other words, she studies how stress makes us sick. Conversely, she illustrates through her work how mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga, prayer, nutritious food and exercise can heal us.
“There is no doubt that when you take it to the next level, the mind and the body are connected, and that when those connections are intact and in balance, you have health and when they’re broken, you have disease,” she writes.
Dr. Sternberg, who was named by the US National Library of Medicine as one of the 300 women physicians who changed the face of medicine, is the author of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions and Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being, both amazing books full of valuable insight. (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Dr.+Esther+Sternberg)
She reminds us how memory serves as a translator between our sensations and our emotional experiences. She says that how we respond to stress impacts our body and that the same sensory input can trigger a negative or a positive emotion within us, depending on the memories we associate with it.
Her point is that how we perceive stress, and our response to it, is ever changing. It depends largely on the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It also depends on what we know and what we remember happened to us in the past in the same situation.
No matter how developed or confident we are, nearly all species on the planet react with stress to an unfamiliar environment.
And that brings me back to the connection between entrepreneurs growing their businesses and stress. Every step we take towards new growth is into an unfamiliar environment. It is no wonder we feel the stress tighten its grip on us.
So what can you do to ease the stress if you are trying to establish and grow your business?
Here are three steps to start with:
- Realize you can’t control everything. No matter how efficiently you plan your business and how accurately you chart your expected profits, there are inevitably circumstances you can’t control that can throw off your calculations. It can rain and causing severe flooding when sunshine is forecast. A foreign country can change its tariff structure and your exported goods may suddenly be impacted with additional costs. In the middle of the resulting stress, at some point you have to realize that not everything falls in the realm of what you can solve. Take the time and panic you are putting into stress and sit down calmly to consider your options.
- Don’t over-react to stress. Remember that while you can’t control all the things that can prompt stress, you can control yourself. Don’t become fixated on stress-related issues that you can’t solve on your own. Look for solutions or other ways of doing things.
- Recognize the signs when you are being overcome with stress: When you feel stressed, don’t try to gloss over it or hide it. Pull it out, take a look about it, talk about it, and determine a strategy to get through it. Rather than rely on drugs or alcohol as a first line of defense, think about your perspective and consider if you can find another way to view what is happening.
- Try hard to keep your attitude positive about your business. Most people keep a “to do” list. I keep a “done” list which I add to daily and look at happily at the end of each month. It is my little technique for keeping stress at bay, even when things don’t go as I want them to go. If you can keep your attitude about your business upbeat and measure what you have accomplished with the same fervor you count up what has to be done, you are less likely to become engulfed by stress.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 23 years, 25,000 clients, 19 countries, 13 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
To check out Paula’s book, “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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