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10 Ways to Relieve Stress for Business Owners

relieve stress for business owners philadelphia

Anyone who owns a business is going to get stressed. Business owner stress is simply part of owning a business, even when that business is going well — perhaps especially if that business is going well. Here are ten of the best ways to relieve stress for business owners.

1. Make a list of what is going well.

A lot of entrepreneur stress is going to come from worry about the trajectory of your business. Even just one day of lower than average sales can make you worry that your business is going to fail. Instead of constantly worrying about everything that could go wrong, take some time to make a list of what is actually working. Spending just a little time focusing on what is going right can give you a reprieve from worrying about everything that’s going wrong.

2. Keep a comprehensive to-do list.

You might think that having a list of every single thing you need to do will actually increase business owner stress, but it is actually one of the best ways to relieve stress. Instead of muddling through a murky swamp of the things that you need to do, you will know exactly what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how it needs to be done. Creating a comprehensive to-do list helps gives you clarity and you may actually be surprised at how motivated you are to get things done when you can then cross them off a concrete list.

3. Take a breath.

If you start to feel the stress piling on, you may think that the only way to relieve that stress is to power forward. Sometimes, stepping back and taking a break is actually a much better way to relieve your stress. It may not actually help you cross off anything on your to-do list, but stopping and taking a breath can help to dissipate the stress that surrounds that to-do list.

4. Keep your space clean.

It’s true what they say about a messy desk—it is a reflection of your current state of mind. You might not even realize how closely tied your external space and your mental state are until you clean off your desk and organize your office and realize that you actually feel productive and ready to work. When your desk is covered in papers and your files are disorganized, you’re going to spend a lot of extra time just looking for the information that you need. When everything is tidy, you’re actually going to spend the most time working.

5. Take action to fix what is wrong.

You can either continue to stress about how poorly your marketing campaign is doing, or you can take real, concrete steps to improve that campaign. When something is causing you stress, instead of just worrying about it endlessly, you can eliminate that stress by fixing the problem. Do something, even if it is small, to rectify the situation. Doing nothing will certainly not fix the problem and relieve your stress.

6. Make a distinction between fear and anxiety.

There is a big difference between something that you are afraid of and something that you are anxious about. Fear is a human response to something dangerous. It is natural to be afraid and it can keep you from making big mistakes. Learning to manage your fear and take calculated risks is part of opening a business. Anxiety, on the other hand, is irrational and less helpful to you. Recognizing the difference between these two emotions can help you deal with each separately.

7. Do not continually circle back to failure.

If you made a mistake, the worst thing that you can do is to berate yourself for it over and over. This breeds stress and you already have enough of that in your life, without actively creating it for yourself. Forgive yourself for a misstep or miscalculation and then move on. Don’t waste your precious energy by continually looking backwards. Look forwards instead.

8. Take responsibility for your actions.

While it is important to forgive yourself for the mistakes that you make while building your business, it is also important to take responsibility for those mistakes. Don’t try to shirk responsibility onto anyone else. As the owner of your business, all successes are yours, but all failures are yours, too. Only when you take responsibility for the goings on of your business can you really, first of all, understand what is going wrong and second, take action to prevent those things from going wrong, which will alleviate your stress.

9. Stay positive.

Constantly thinking about how you are going to fail will only ensure that you actually will fail. If you expect to fail, you’ll do nothing to stop it as you see it come barreling down the tracks. What you need to do, instead, is to stay positive. If you believe that you will succeed, you are more likely to succeed, as this attitude will infuse everything that you do. Having a positive outlook can be one of the best ways to relieve stress.

10. Learn to delegate.

One of the biggest reasons most entrepreneurs experience stress is because they are horrible at delegating. Maybe you started this business by yourself and even though you’ve hired employees, you still try to take on every single thing yourself. Instead of being a work-hog, trust your employees with the responsibilities you’ve hired them to take care of. If you don’t think you can trust them to provide work at the high level you yourself provide, fire those people and hire people that you do trust.


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Lori provides counseling to adults and couples in a comfortable environment in Rittenhouse Square. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MbSR), she helps individuals live fuller lives.


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