The pace of modern life, the expectations of others, and our own expectations combine to increase levels of stress so that it becomes a part of everyday life. This shouldn't be the case. But the reality is that most of us feel more like stress balls than stressless.
It’s important to be aware of all the balls of stress that build up over time as a small business owner. It can have serious negative effects on your health and well-being, so it’s crucial that you learn ways to control it. Let's learn about the importance of stress management:
What Is Stress?
Cavemen used stress to survive - to deal with saber tooth tigers or other dangerous foes cavemen developed a stress response. This is known as fight or flight - take on the saber tooth tiger, or get the heck outta there.
Very few of us face this sort of stress in modern life – where the outcome is life or death. According to the Department of Psychiatry at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a variety of things now trigger stress:
The death of friends or family
Divorce (or getting married)
Losing a job (or starting a new one)
Financial problems and pressures
Chronic illness or injury (personally, or in a member of your family)
Being unhappy at work
Having a workload that is too heavy, or responsibilities that are too much
Working long hours
Having unclear expectations at work
Having no say in the decision-making process
Feeling undervalued (lack of career advancement)
Discrimination or harassment at work
These things initiate the same fight or flight response as the cavemen developed. When this happens, chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine) increase and hormones like adrenalin are released.
Cavemen with the “fight or flight” response usually were in situations that ended quickly. They either ran away, fought off the tiger, or were killed.
For better or worse, we don't have the ability to instantly get rid of stress because of our modern situations (that keep us alive much longer). The effect of the release of these chemicals and hormones in our bodies builds up over time.
The Impacts Of Stress
Stress causes a number of physical problems including increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. This can result in anything from catching the common cold, to getting stomach ulcers, to developing heart disease. The impact of stress on our bodies often goes unnoticed. We try to cope and adapt, but the effect on the body is like a ticking time bomb.
Stress also affects us psychologically. This can include depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Stress makes you irritable, unable to focus, and leaves you with limited decision-making abilities.
Stress Management Techniques
How can you manage and reduce stress? Experts recommend a number of techniques and lifestyle changes:
Engage in stress reducing activities - examples include exercise, yoga or meditation. You can also take up a hobby.
Get enough sleep - to maintain your levels of physical and mental energy
Don't try to cope alone - your support network of friends and family is crucial
Delegate - you don't have to do everything
Improve your time management - for example, do the most stressful thing of your day first
Practice diaphragmatic breathing - when you feel stressed put one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen then breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds. Do this for five to 10 minutes.
Control your technology - don't let it control you. You can do this by switching off email notifications, and setting specific times of the day for dealing with email. Also set time throughout the day when you do not answer telephone calls.
It’s not possible to eliminate stress completely. And you cannot reduce feelings of stress or their negative impacts overnight. But if you recognize the importance of stress management, and work at it, over time you will improve your physical and mental health while (hopefully) becoming more successful in work and happier at home.
Don’t get stressed about letting go of stress. Instead surrender into the idea of who you are by reading this Chinese proverb: "Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” Are you stressless yet?