7 Ways to Manage Stress (and Why Small Business Should)


7 Ways to Manage Stress (and Why Small Business Should)

Small Business owners are finding themselves increasingly under pressure which is why learning how to manage stress is so important. 

Stress is a common human response to challenging physical, emotional, and mental situations. These situations can trigger a biological and physiological response in the body’s nervous system that manifests into common symptoms of stress, including a rapid heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, an upset stomach, and more.

Managing stress is important for your overall well-being and can help reduce the symptoms and potential triggers. Through stress management, you can learn to become calmer, have more control over your anxious thoughts, and reduce tension in the body.

What is stress and how does it affect your health?

Experiencing stress is a normal part of life. In fact, stress has been occurring since the beginning of mankind, serving as a useful response that triggers us into protecting ourselves from dangers in our environment. Stressful situations, for example, being face to face with a lion in caveman times – triggers our innate “fight or flight” response, preparing the body to take action against potential threats.

Stress produces a chemical reaction in the body, releasing adrenaline and cortisol that prepares us to think or react quickly to a challenging situation. However, as mankind has evolved, unfortunately, our caveman response to stress hasn’t. This means our body still reacts with this sensory overload when presented with stressful situations – our body is preparing us to run away from a lion in the wild even in situations where direct danger isn’t apparent.

Stress can be triggered by many experiences, including a comment from a stranger, managing too many tasks at once, trying something new, moving house, illness or injury, and several other normal daily life experiences.

In most cases, stress can help us to perform better or think more clearly, however, stress can also negatively impact our health and well-being. Negative symptoms and effects of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach or gastrointestinal issues
  • Frequent urination
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Depression, anxiety and panic attacks
  • Disturbed sleep or fatigue
  • Muscle tension

Different ways to manage your stress.

Managing stress helps to return your mind and body to a more relaxed state, helping you to think more clearly and reducing tension in the body. With that in mind, here are seven ways to manage stress and reduce its negative effects so that

1. Meditation.

One of the most effective ways to manage stress is through practices of meditation and mindfulness. Studies have shown that mindfulness helps to decrease stress, as well as promote mental well-being. 

Meditation and mindfulness allow our thoughts to appear naturally, but instead of giving attention to them and being caught up in the thought itself, we learn to acknowledge them and let them drift away like clouds in the sky. There are several apps available that guide you through meditation and include relaxation exercises to help you to practice being mindful.

2. Massage.

The positive contribution massage has to reduce stress is significant. More than just a relaxing or indulgent experience, getting a massage can help to regulate the mind and the body, as well as target areas in the body that may be holding tension due to stress. 

Different massage techniques can help alleviate tension in the body, returning the muscles to a more relaxed state. Massage also reduces blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and helps with common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

3. Regular exercise.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to manage stress. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t. This is because physical exercise lowers the body’s stress hormones, including cortisol. 

Keeping the body active also increases the feel-good hormones known as endorphins, and helps you to achieve an overall relaxed state of mind. Exercises such as yoga, walking, and weightlifting are all great ways to relieve stress as well as boost immunity and improve sleep quality.

4. Getting enough sleep.

When dealing with stressful situations at work or managing a busy household, many of us compromise our sleeping schedule. By working into the late hours to get on top of work, you’re missing out on a good night’s sleep. 

It’s recommended that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Not getting enough sleep leads to fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration, and can exacerbate stress symptoms, making it harder to manage stress overall. 

5. Keeping a journal.

Tracking your mood or writing down your thoughts and feelings may also help to reduce stress. Writing things down can help you to become more objective and see things in a clearer way, and this helps bring stressful situations onto a more manageable level. 

Another great way to push out the negative thoughts that stress conjures up is by keeping a gratitude list. Listing everything you’re grateful for helps you to see that there are more good things in your life than you think, and helps train you to focus on the positive rather than negative.

6. Surrounding yourself with nature.

Nature has a calming effect on the body. By simply walking through a park or sitting on a bench by a river, you’re surrounding yourself with the natural healing properties of nature. It’s been shown that even viewing pictures of nature can help relieve stress and anxiety and improve your mood. 

Taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to sit and be at one with nature will reduce cortisol levels and help you take a break from any stressful issues, allowing you to come back feeling rejuvenated and refocused. 

7. Focusing on the big picture.

In periods of stress, it’s easy to feel like the world’s caving in all around you. One of the best ways to get a hold on stress and overcome these feelings is by focusing on the big picture. By asking yourself questions such as will this matter a week from now? A month from now? 5 years from now? 

In every stressful situation, you have the power to redirect your thoughts toward a more positive and constructive outcome. When you’re next faced with a stressful situation, think about the positive lesson you can gain from it or find the easiest path to feeling ease. 

Managing stress is a practice that takes time and constant fine-tuning. By applying the stress management strategies listed above will help you to manage your stress. This, in turn, will help you to run your small business more efficiently and be happier at the same time.

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