Check Yourself: Is Personal Stress Killing Your Business?

As a solopreneur, I know first-hand that building a business is more than a full-time job—it can feel like a 24/7 commitment!

While the average entrepreneur reports working at least 60 hours per week, many of us clock far more hours.

Even as your business grows and you’re able to afford to bring on part-time or full-time employees, the stress of staying out of the red can take a serious toll on your health.

In fact, the American Institute of Stress reports that 10 percent of all strokes are caused by work-related stress. That’s a pretty terrifying statistic!

Related Article: 7 Simple Mindful Tactics to Reduce Stress for Leaders

Stress dramatically increases your risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a heart attack. One out of five Americans says they are so stressed out by work that it causes them to deal with complications such as heart palpitations, depression and shaking,

Balancing the joys of entrepreneurship with the realities of self-employment means finding time each day for self-care. After all, if your business can only be as strong as its leader.

If you’re in poor health, your business will be, too! You don’t have to run yourself into the ground to have a successful small business. But you do need to make your mental and physical well-being a priority each day. From getting active to tackling personal debt, here are three easy ways to reduce your stress level today:

1. Take a 20-Minute Walk Daily

From breakfast meetings to late-night projects, it can feel like you’re always on the clock. While squeezing in a gym workout each day may feel impossible, you can always find 20 minutes to take a daily walk. Studies show that daily walks lower the stress cortisol, in addition to a host of other health benefits.

For example, dedicating 20 to 30 minutes per day for walking can also help reduce low back pain. As an added bonus, daily exercise of any type can help you steer clear of numerous other health issues. Schedule your daily walk just like you would any other business meeting or project deliverable; block off the time on your calendar each day and stick to it!

2. Lower Your Personal Debt

Nothing keeps a business owner awake at night like money problems. While you can’t always control whether a client will pay you on time, you can take control of personal financial worries. Whether you’re worried about old student loans or credit card debt, the key is to get all your personal debt under control. Refinancing and consolidation are two options that can help lower your monthly payments and possibly even save you thousands in interest.

For example, if you’re struggling with student loan debt, you can consolidate student loans to make your monthly payments more manageable. Lower monthly payments can free up income for other, more urgent debt servicing, like high-interest credit card debt.

No matter how far “in the hole” you may feel, it is possible to get back out! Making a plan and following through on your payments will considerably reduce your overall financial stress, helping you can shift your energy towards growing your business rather than worrying about debt collectors.

3. Get Back to Nature

One of the best stress busters is simply spending time in nature. Studies show that getting back to nature will boost your immune system and enhance your overall physical and mental health.

In fact, living near a green space is enough to bring down your risk of developing anxiety, depression, diabetes, cancer and numerous other health issues. Afraid the office really can’t survive without you? Take your daily 20-minute walk in a nearby park, greenbelt or wooded area.

Related Article: Leading by Example: Can Managers Reduce Stress in the Office?

Bottom Line:

Self-care doesn’t have to stop at the office doorstep. Whenever possible, delegate less essential tasks to employees or outsource to freelancers. Refine your business offerings to focus on the highest margin products or services.

Ask yourself, “What do I love that also generates a steady income? What am I doing that’s simply not worth the energy?” Over time, you may even be able to cut back on your weekly work hours as a result of being able to focus more clearly while you are at work. This will help you thrive professionally and personally, not to mention lowering stress and improving your overall quality of life.

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