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Why Stress Isn’t Just Bad for You—but Bad for Business

Stress isn’t just bad for your physical and mental health. Stress can also be a killer for your startup or small business.

You’ve more than likely heard of the negative effects stress can have on your body. The buildup of stress can result in everything from chronic pain to nausea and digestive issues to panic attacks. People who experience prolonged stress are more likely to develop insomnia as well.

But stress isn’t just bad for your physical and mental health. As a business owner, it’s nearly impossible to prevent your personal life from influencing your business—and stress can be detrimental.

Of course, business owners are used to heightened levels of stress. They have more than enough tasks on their plate, especially when their business is still in the startup phase. Since they care so much about the success of the business, they may take on more tasks than should be expected of one person.

And while the intention of helping your business succeed is a noble one, learning how to take breaks and manage stress should be a required part of running a business. If you’re still not convinced, let’s take a closer look at all the ways stress can have a negative impact on your business.

Stress Build-Up Can Lead to Too Much Time Off

We’ve already gone over some of the ways that stress can impact you physically. And you know what? That’s not just a personal problem—it’s a business one, too.

Running a business works best when you as the business owner are as healthy as possible. If you’re not feeding yourself properly, taking time to rest and recharge, sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and exercising a moderate amount, your immune system is not going to respond well.

If you’re constantly stressing about work, you’ll eventually get sick. And that could lead to missing multiple full days of work. Is that really worth putting in double the hours every day, just to eventually have to take a significant amount of time off?

Stress Makes Us Less Sharp

Some people perform well under a manageable amount of healthy stress. If they know they have a big meeting or presentation coming up, they do their best to continually prepare and keep their immune system up, so that nothing bad (and preventable) happens before the big day.

But too much stress makes us not our best selves. In fact, it can even negatively affect our memory—meaning you could become more forgetful, even in the long run. As a business owner, you know how dangerous that could be for business.

Stress Can Mean Bad Decision-Making

According to the Harvard Business Review, too much stress can lead us to make bad decisions. But why?

Instead of being active in our decisions, stress makes us more reactive. This means that, instead of taking time to actively weigh different options, stress means we are more likely to feel pressured to respond quickly. We don’t take the time to think through our choices and jump to conclusions prematurely—which can often have a negative outcome.

Additionally, stress can amplify certain problems to make them seem of bigger consequence than they actually are. We can lose our ability to understand nuance, and things can appear more black-and-white and life-or-death than they actually are.

The Problem with Glorifying “the Hustle”

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s hard to ignore the glorification given to “the hustle,” especially in online communities. Some people brag about sleeping only four hours a night, working 18-hour days, and neglecting other parts of their life. They can make us think that, without doing those things, our success as business owners is less legitimate, or that we’re not doing everything we could be.

The problem with that all-or-nothing attitude, however, is that it’s not remotely sustainable in the long run—it’s where stress comes from when you put everything into your business and nothing into the rest of your life. A business run entirely on caffeine and zero sleep is going to burn out quickly. Taking care of yourself means taking time to care for every aspect of your life—not just your business.

How To Get a Handle on Stress

Thankfully, there are plenty of free, easy ways to get a handle on your stress so that you can perform well at work—and in life.

One such method is journaling. It may sound silly, but taking even just 10 or 15 minutes a day to write down your thoughts and reflect a bit can do wonders for your mental health. It can help you take a step back and understand a situation more clearly. And you don’t even have to keep a handwritten journal if you don’t want to. Websites like 750words will even analyze your emotions for each of your entries.

Another way to help eliminate stress is to get comfortable delegating. As a business owner, you may have a hard time letting go and leaving certain tasks up to other people. But the truth is that, in order to run a successful business, you have to. That means leaving your accounting up to an account, and your administrative tasks up to an administrator. Your days will feel much healthier and more manageable if you’re not doing every single task needed for your business.

Additionally, a lot of business owners have trouble unplugging. We get it—you don’t want to miss a life-changing email from a potential client, even if it is 6 PM. On a Saturday. You don’t have to completely disconnect from the little electronic rectangle in your pocket every evening and weekend, but you should at least set some boundaries. For instance, you don’t need to have push notifications enabled for your email. Instead, you can plan to dedicate just a few minutes each evening and weekend day to make sure no fires need putting out.

And last but not least, get your blood flowing! Being sedentary is bad for your health (after all, “sitting is the new smoking”), but an added bonus of exercise is how well it works in reducing stress. You only need to perform 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week to stay healthy, which could simply mean simply taking a walk each evening.

Whatever you need to do to de-stress, do it. You and your business (not to mention your employees) will thank you later.

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