7 Ways to Reduce Stress When Running a Small Business

Running a small business is stressful enough, but let’s face it – some days, you’re just overwhelmed. Small business owners often face more stress than their big business counterparts, particularly when everything’s going wrong. You might also find yourself working longer hours and taking work home, which can be dreadful. It’s often tough to stop your mind from going in different directions and stressing about the little things (or even the big ones). In today’s blog, I’ve included seven of my favourite tips and tricks for managing stress based on my experiences supporting small businesses over the years.

1. Stop searching and start doing

With much information at our fingertips, it is easy to become consumed by headlines and uneducated news. We need to carefully choose what information we take on because it can have the opposite effect than desired.

Instead of finding answers, motivation, and shortcuts, you’re bringing in more doubts and uncertainty. Stop stalling and get moving. There will be bumps in the road, and that’s normal!

You have what you need to get started. If we all waited for something to be “right” or “perfect”, nobody would achieve anything.

2. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is essential for a healthy body, and staying hydrated throughout the day is important. When you’re dehydrated, you’ll feel sluggish, tired and irritable.

If you find it challenging to drink enough water during the day, try some of these tips:

  • Drink a glass of water before and after a meal. It will also help prevent overeating and promote digestion.
  • Keep a bottle of water with you always so that you have something to drink when you get thirsty or hungry.
  • Add fruit or cucumber slices to your water bottle to make it more appetising!
  • Set a timer for regular trips to the kitchen to put on the kettle. This short break will also give you much-needed time away from your desk and get you moving.

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3. Optimise your sleep

A good night’s rest is critical because it affects how your body functions mentally and physically and sets you up for the day.

Length doesn’t mean quality, so here are some simple tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • See the sunlight in the morning – seeing unfiltered (not through a window) sunlight soon after you wake helps “set” your body clock, so your body knows when to wind down for bedtime.
  • Have a hot shower before bed – this triggers your internal core temperature to drop because it compensates for the hot external temperature. Drop your core body temperature by 1-3 degrees before bedtime to help you sleep.
  • Reduce light exposure in the evening or use floor-based lighting – light exposure kills our natural melatonin production (the sleep hormone). Low-level lighting has less impact, as our light receptors are facing upwards (to get light from the sun/above us)
  • Write out your to-do list for the next day – figuring out precisely what you need to accomplish the following day will allow you to switch off instead of worrying about work.

4. Talk about how you are feeling

You don’t have to do this alone! It’s essential to have someone you trust and can talk to about your business—a coach, mentor, or peer, for example. Someone who can give you advice when you need it and who can help you see things from a different perspective.

Having a coach or mentor isn’t just about improving performance. It’s about understanding who YOU are as an entrepreneur. It’s about understanding what makes you tick and how to get the most out of yourself.

5. Set realistic goals

If you want to double the size of your team, open stores in 3 new locations, or double your revenue, you can do it! Aim high, but be realistic about what you can achieve in specific timeframes and with the resources available.

There’s nothing you can’t do. What will hold you back is:

  • Not creating a plan – going from 0 to 100 is a giant leap. Break your larger goal into bitesize chunks, such as 90 days. It will keep you motivated and allow you to track progress far easier.
  • Overestimating timelines – other work and life gets in the way. Don’t set yourself up for failure by kicking off at a speed that won’t be sustainable for you. Progressive, sustainable growth is what you should aim for. 

6. Communicate with your team

Your team needs to know what their responsibilities are and how you expect them to meet those responsibilities. Make sure they understand what’s expected of them clearly and concisely and that this information is always easy to find.

Hold regular meetings to set actions and get updates. Schedule team meetings at the same time each week, and set up smaller meetings and 1-2-1s as needed to best use everyone’s time.

You should also ensure you’re holding your team accountable for their performance. It can be done in many ways, including:

  • Providing regular feedback on performance
  • Offering rewards for good performance
  • Rewarding employees who go above and beyond expectations

7. Encourage your team (and yourself) to take breaks

When you’re working on a project or have much work, it can be hard to remember to take a break. It’s tempting to keep going until the job is done—but that’s not always the best idea. It often leaves you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.

Regular breaks are essential for your mental and physical health. They can also improve efficiency, speed, and team morale, creating a happier work environment.

Encourage your team to take breaks in and outside of work. Please encourage them to move away from their workspace during lunch, remind them about their holiday hours to take time off with their family, and encourage them to take up a new hobby or do something fun on the weekend. Remember, you’re the head of the team, so lead by example and encourage yourself to do the same.

Small steps lead to big changes

You’re rushed off your feet, and you probably think that you don’t have time to slow down or implement these changes. But the way you work now will affect future results.

Start by choosing two or three tips from this list, and then add another once they become a habit. You’ll be surprised how quickly they do when you’re consistent.


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