Americans are some of the most stressed-out people in the world. A whopping 55% of Americans report high stress levels, compared to the global average of 35%. Many people have adopted a “busy is best” mindset, in which over-scheduling and over-working are glorified as productive, and anything less is lazy.
It’s no surprise that business owners also report higher than average stress levels. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of entrepreneurs report being stressed, and an additional 34% report having “worried a lot” about business-related issues.
Stress takes a toll on our bodies and our brains. We carry stress in our neck, back, shoulders, and jaw. This can result in tight, sore muscles, pinched nerves, and tension headaches. Stress can cause somatic symptoms like stomach aches, nausea, and even heart palpitations. Chronic stress can lead to long-term mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It is important, therefore, to find ways to manage your stress.
Take it easy
It’s important to be proactive when it comes to your mental well-being. Experts agree that getting enough sleep, exercising and eating right, and taking time off from work are great ways to help keep stress at bay. But if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try these five strategies to help feel calmer and more in control.
Take a breath
Taking a few moments to focus on your breath can help reduce stress levels almost instantaneously. There are a variety of guided meditation and breathwork apps available, but you don’t really need any outside help to focus on your breath. Experts recommend the “square breathing” technique. Inhale for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, and repeat. As you follow this pattern, try to visualize a square being drawn.
Change of pace
Sometimes a change of scenery is all we need. Physically removing yourself from a situation can help you gain the perspective you need. Leave the office: treat yourself to lunch out, take a walk, or go for a drive. Practice a deep breathing technique to re-center before returning to the office.
It might sound basic, but eating a well-balanced meal can work wonders. Make sure you get a brain-fueling protein, a complex carbohydrate, and fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure you drink a full glass of water. Stay away from over-indulging in basic carbs, salty foods, sugary sodas, and coffee. If you need an extra boost of caffeine, try a cup of green tea. While you’re eating this meal, try to shut off your work phone for a few minutes and eat mindfully.
As a business owner, it can be hard to put down your work and walk away. But sometimes it’s what you need to do. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, put your phone on silent, commit to ignoring emails, and focus on something else. Being present in the moment can help settle the mind, regulate stress hormone levels, and bring a sense of renewed focus when you return to work.
Ask for help
It can be helpful to identify a person with whom you feel safe talking about your emotions. That might be a partner, friend, counselor, sibling, or parent. Having someone who is aware that you’re feeling overwhelmed and who can share their own stresses with you can help you feel less isolated in your struggles.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your work day, try some of these strategies to lower your stress levels throughout the day. They might seem simple, but they are reminders to take care of yourself. If you continue to experience uncontrollable feelings of stress, helplessness, or if you feel unsafe in any way, reach out to your primary care physician or text REASON to 741741 for free and confidential crisis support 24 hours a day.