by Liesha Petrovich
We live in an Instagram society where we’re always searching for perfection. Not many of us are rewarded for our mistakes and blunders. Maybe that’s why our stress levels are through the roof.
In fact, one in six Americans now take some kind of antidepressants. And we can’t overlook that our mental state has a direct impact on our professional lives. Most of us can juggle our business and personal life, but there is no way to keep them separate. Sooner or later we’re bound to crash. And that makes stress a real business challenge.
We don’t like to admit our weaknesses and we try to live in Denial World for as long as we can. But that’s a recipe for disaster. Instead of ignoring our stress, it’s time to deal with it head on.
Before it damages our business.
Reduce Fear, Reduce Stress
An interesting study showed that we’re not really as stressed as we think. It’s not that we don’t experience physical symptoms, we’re just identifying them as stress instead of fear.
In There’s No Such Thing As Stress–Here’s What’s Really Bothering You, Robert Maurer explains that we’re really experiencing fear not stress.
“Successful people assume that whenever they’re doing something important, they’ll experience fear—and they’re right. Every animal has a built-in fear response: the deer runs, the bird flies, the mouse burrows, and the lion charges. Successful leaders appear to have discovered the healthiest possible human response to fear: reaching out to others for support.”
Starting and running a business can be a terrifying thing. Yet, we don’t have to do it alone. Successful business owners build a network of support and are willing to ask others for help. It’s a simple solution to a complex problem. Don’t suffer in silence – reach out and ask for help.
Find a Way to Work Less
Somehow we created a culture where they give out merit badges for those that put in 60 hour weeks. Like it’s an honor.
But while all work and no play may lead to bigger profits, it’s just not sustainable. In The 2017 State of Workplace Culture, a study showed that “those who worked an 11 hour day were nearly three times more likely to feel stressed at work than those who worked an eight hour day.”
It’s time to find a way to streamline your workday, or risk burn out. Try affordable outsourcing options, downscale operations, or find a partner. You know your business best, just find a way to work less long before your business suffers.
Use Stress as a Wake Up Call
In Why Stress Is A Mompreneur’s Best Friend – And I’ll Prove It, I explained a common reaction when you get a phone call from a horrible client:
“You see the number and your body has an immediate fight-or-flight response and floods your system with adrenaline. You know at some point you’re going to have to listen to the message (because you’ll never answering it willingly), and now you’re swamped with a feeling of complete and utter dread. Because of a phone call you didn’t even pick up yet.”
Your body is trying to tell you something if your reaction is this intense. Your physical symptoms literally translate into “your business isn’t working for us”. Don’t pretend that you’re okay or that everything is alright. It’s not. Figure out what’s causing your body to react that way and make some changes. Dump horrible clients, find the right tools to solve your problems, or reach out and ask for help.
It’s time to listen to what your body is saying.
Start Being Real
I remember being at a networking event where everyone had a chance to speak. Out of a group of 20 or so women, no one mentioned stress or problems. No one talked about their struggles because that would be a sign of weakness. Business was “great” and everyone was “great”. In fact, they were never better.
Of course, many were lying through their teeth.
One lady was going through a horrible divorce. One mom’s son was just suspended from school. Another was desperate to save her business and tried really hard not to let that show on her face.
I’m not suggesting that we have to share our personal lives with everyone we meet. But let’s stop pretending that everything’s “great”. There is no reason to deny that stress impacts our business. We are humans, not robots. Of course, our mental state can clash with our work day!
Instead, it’s time to start treating stress like a regular business issue. Find solutions, implement changes and share our stories with other business owners.
Because you’re certainly not the first woman who is stressed at work. And you won’t be the last.
Liesha‘s the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title – but it’s a metaphor mom!). She talks about freelancing adventures at Microbusiness Essentials.