Stress less is something I think we can all agree is a good thing.
I don’t know about you but stress has a few very specific obvious consequences for me and a whole heap of little silent but deadly consequences too.
When I am overwhelmed, stressed and managing it poorly my body lets me know with brutal efficiency. I get migraines, clench my jaw, my time of the month is more painful, something else I do is eat more not to mention distancing myself from my friends and family. Making more mistakes and poor choices to do with my life and health is also a sure fire sign that I am self medicating for stress through quick fixes and that can lead to all manner of issues further down the line.
I can’t lie to you and tell you that starting, building and growing a business is entirely stress free and I definitely don’t have a secret formula for the stress free life. What I can share is some things that cause me stress unnecessarily and ways that I choose to stress less about them.
Here’s the thing. As you build your business there are going to be pressures and stresses that come from a multitude of sources. Some necessary and they will drive you forward, keep you safe and ultimately lead you to where you need to be. Others are more damaging and need to be cared for. I wrote about endurance and how that supports your business, here’s some more tips to help too.
Stress less and drop perfect
Perfectionism is a typical trait but it can be paralysing. A common phrase in my house is done is better than none. When I have the time, the capacity and the wherewithal of course I aim to be the best I can. To do the ‘thing’ to the best of my abilities but I truly believe that a great way to stress less is to pick those battles well. Is this thing you’re holding onto or feel behind in a ‘must be perfect’ scenario or should it really be team ‘done is better than none’? If you are paralysed by perfection then I am firmly in the get it done and deal with tweaking later.
Stress can be like referred pain. All those hours and minutes you’re wasting putting the P in perfect for that project will have an effect. Your capacity will reduce. You’re ability to deal with change will be tested. Your patience and confidence will plummet. Focus on putting the P in progress instead. As you outgrow perfectionism and begin to really grow your business you may find that you feel guilty more and more.
Guilt can be an unnecessary stress
Guilty that you love what you do when so many others don’t. Guilty that you have less (or more) than others even though you’re working for a better future.
We all waste time feeling guilty that we are doing to much or too little of something. That we have more or less than the next person. Somehow that we aren’t woman enough, mother enough, good enough. That we are too lazy or too busy.
Truth be told this is not something you can switch off but if you reach into that feeling everyday it can become a weight that is tough to carry. So set boundaries on feeling guilty. What is acceptable to drive you and what is wallowing and wasteful for your energy? Another side effect of guilt and perfectionism has to be the damage it does to your sleep pattern.
Sleep is the Stress less secret weapon
Your basic human needs should always be a priority when you’re building your business. Eat regularly and well, drink plenty of water, look after yourself when you’re ill and get the best quality sleep you can. Healthy habits will take you’re business further than any ‘overnight success’ because it’s what will drive sustainability. It will also enable you to manage the necessary ‘driving’ stresses better.
You can see immediately how stress from lack of sleep affects you. Snappy. Unfocused. Clumsy. More prone to mistakes. If simply getting to bed when you’re ready means avoiding all of that why wouldn’t you? I truly believe that one of the best ways to sleep better, do more whilst working less is all about ease.
Cultivate healthy convenience
As people we have a tendency to have big ideas and little execution. Take going to the gym 3 x a week. The plan is great, the reasons sound and then there’s the practicalities. You choose the swanky gym that is 30 minutes from home because it has all the mod cons. The problem is, it’s not convenient so building in the habit of going becomes a chore that adds time, energy, extra planning and forethought onto your day when you just want to go.
Think of this as the ‘logistics’ stress. Choose things that are more convenient, easier, quicker but support your wellbeing and enable you to stay committed to your boundaries.
Boundaries fo’ life!
Stress less is a principle rooted in firm boundaries. With yourself and with others. As a recovering people pleaser (who am I kidding – I am a people pleaser) the thought of turning down an invitation, a request for help or the over extension of my time, abilities and capacity is like nails on a chalkboard.
It goes against the grain, it feels grating and hard. That being said am I really helping people well if I do a half hearted job? or drain myself to the point of illness? Or resent the time I’m giving those things? Sometimes it’s healthier for all concerned for you to create and hold firm boundaries, they are no less important for being firm with yourself than they are with others. Sometimes you have to create a stress less environment by building in more space to think. I talk openly about my boundaries with my email subscribers – want in? Subscribe.
Switch off to switch on
Over stimulation is a real thing in this day and age and I highly recommend commit to stress less by giving yourself tech free time. Time with less noise. Less imagery and the energy draining that can come from it. Not only will this help you focus more but curating your tech time will help you physically (your eyes and body will thank you) but it will free up the mental space you need to generate ideas, process what’s going on with you and in the world at large and just generally make you feel freer.
An added bonus with less tech time is that you relearn the skill that it is to be present with your loved ones. Maybe it’s about talking about the day over dinner, together as a family or it could be a walk with your dog (one of my favourites) whatever tech free time looks like for you make it count. Let it recharge your batteries, ignite your curiosity and lead to those break throughs that you so desperately want.
Understanding how money can impact your stress levels is fundamental to building in better habits and reducing the harmful types of stress. I’m talking both in business and personal terms. This might mean breaking things down. Creating a budget or even seeking help. Another great thing to do if you’re in a relationship is to talk through your money goals with them and start working on them together but by far my biggest saviour has been knowing I have some savings to fall back on. There is a lot of great free content out there, here’s an article I like to get you started. 5 Easy ways to save money