5 Tips for Dealing with the Stresses of Online Entrepreneurship
Money, work and the economy continue to be the most frequently cited causes of stress for Americans.
That’s according to an annual study by the American Psychological Association, and their statistics are alarming. Stress is rampant, and it’s on the rise, according to the APA.
As an entrepreneur, one way to cope is to find a job that is less stressful, but in all likelihood that’s not something you would willingly consider. The only other option is to use the right coping tactics.
With the above in mind, this article will reveal five actionable ways to create your own personal stress management strategy (based on science).
1. Recognize That Stress Is Just Physiological
The ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu gives the following pithy quote in his classic book The Art of War:
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
This is a good place to start. Once you understand stress, dealing with it becomes a little easier. The first thing you need to recognize is how stress is triggered in your body, every time you read that “bad” email or have a fire to put out in your business.
Here’s a brief explanation:
The ‘stress response’ gets triggered when the adrenals, a pair of walnut sized glands atop the kidneys, receive distress messages from the brain. The adrenals release adrenalin (ephineprine) and cortisol, two hormones that in turn initiate the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response. The ‘fight or flight’ symptoms are familiar: rapid heart rate, muscle contraction, cold hands and feet, racing thoughts.
This response is a natural biological ally. It’s there to help when we’re running from a mugger, for example. But there’s a twist: our bodies react with this response when the brain gives the trigger message — whether the threat is real or imagined.
When we’re stressing because a key client just quit, our brains are sending the stress trigger message to our bodies. So, stop fueling stress with your imagination. If it’s not life-threatening, stop imagining that it is. It’s all too easy for us to allow our imaginations to run away with us, but you have it in your power to consciously choose how to perceive ‘threats’.
2. Distinguish Between ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Stress
Yep — there is such a thing as “good” stress!
Arguably the first scientist to study stress was Hans Seyle. He coined the words “stress” and “eustress” as early as 1936.
Without [stress], we would become depressed and perhaps feel a lack of meaning in life. Not striving for goals, not overcoming challenges, not having a reason to wake up in the morning would be damaging to us, so eustress is considered ‘good’ stress.” ~ Elizabeth Scott
Eustress is that vital feeling we get when we’re enthusiastic about something. When we start our first online business and make a sale, for example. When we’re excited and motivated, our bodies react with increased heart-rate and hormonal changes which are healthy. But there’s a fine line between good and bad stress, and we need to maintain a balance.
How can we learn to find the peak level of stress that sustains our motivation without harming us? The key is in our minds — the way we perceive things — viewing a challenge as either threatening or enjoyable makes all the difference. That’s why we need to be aware of the mental environments we are constantly creating for ourselves.
3. Create the Optimal Mental Environment
Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~ Viktor Frankl
Our ‘inner dialogue’ is responsible for much of our stress — particularly when we’re afraid of failure. We’re continually evaluating our experience of life on a moment-to-moment basis and deciding what things mean — whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, threatening or boring.
It’s important to realize that we have a choice in that process. We are all constantly creating our own mental environments. We need to manage our day-to-day mindset, instead of just resorting to habit.
Becoming more aware of our inner worlds can be the most effective tool in coping with stress. This game-changing insight has its origins in Buddhist thought, but mainstream mental health science has come to the same conclusion.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, shares a number of useful resources online, aimed at creating the right mental coping strategy. Here’s one example: Positive Thinking: Reduce Stress by Eliminating Negative Self-Talk.
4. Stay On Good Terms With Your Body
It’s common knowledge that exercise can reduce stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting.”
But there’s more to it than just exercise. There’s a ton of research being conducted about the relationship between our minds and our bodies, and the benefits of increased body awareness.
What are ‘Body Awareness’ exercises? It’s where the entire body is ‘scanned’ mentally. You pay attention to the stresses, pains and sensations in each part of the body, from head to toe, while in a state of relaxation. In this way it becomes possible to untangle chronic knots in the muscles, especially around the neck and shoulders. It’s a useful skill that anyone can learn.
Here’s a good explanation of how it works and why it is beneficial, by the stress expert Elizabeth Scott. It may seem a little ‘out there’ — it did to me when I first heard of it — but it is proven to work. You have nothing to lose by trying!
5. Use the Power of Music to De-Stress
Psychologist Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, studies the neuroscience of music. He found that music improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress. Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery.
Of course, everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to music, but what you’re looking for is something that lowers the blood pressure and soothes the mind. Not everyone can listen to classical music, but simply paying more attention to what we constantly listen to will make a difference.
If you need some inspiration, here’s one playlist designed to relieve stress.
Finding an optimal balance in life isn’t easy. Entrepreneurs need to keep their motivation high while avoiding burn-out. Somewhere between being too laid-back and being nervously obsessive, there’s a sweet spot. You can’t get rid of stress completely, but the right strategy will help you maintain your balance.
To find your own way of coping, it makes sense to study the enemy first. Once you understand how stress works, you will get better at nurturing ‘good’ stress while avoiding the ‘bad’ variety. It starts in the mind, by becoming aware of how we ‘self-speak’ and create imaginary stress where none exists.
Combined with a little regular exercise, awareness of the body and a sensible diet, your strategy will provide the right results in no time. And don’t forget to pay attention to your playlists!
We’d love to hear how you’re coping with stress — please share your thoughts on the subject in the comments below!
Originally published at blog.getdrip.com.