Managing stress and worry as a business owner

Managing stress and worry for business owners Trio Accounting Wairarapa wellington

For most business owners and entrepreneurs, worry is a fact of life. You’ve been there with the 3am wake-up call when you’re sweating over cashflow or how you’re going to handle a poorly performing team member.

Worry and stress normally ebbs and flows. But lately it seems like worry moved in over lockdown, has taken up permanent residence on the couch and is showing no signs of moving out. 

While you can’t always control external forces like a global pandemic or a recession, you can control how you deal with worry and stress. You do not have to simply accept these as a cost of being a business owner.

A head full of worry is like an overflowing email inbox

When your inbox is full of emails, it can feel overwhelming. A head full of worry can be a bit like a full inbox. Just like your emails, you can to filter your worries and decide on the appropriate course of action.

There are four choices when it comes to dealing with worry and stress in your business:

Ignore – which actually achieves nothing. The problems don’t go away and just like emails, new ones keep arriving in your inbox compounding the feeling of overwhelm.

Delete – some stuff is simply not worth worrying about. It’s unimportant or plain spam. Putting things through your ‘Giveashitometer’ and deciding whether or not the issue really requires your headspace is a helpful habit to get into.

Forward – as a business owner, you get emails which other people are better placed to deal with. Tempting as it is to handle everything, sometimes the best approach is to delegate or get an expert to help out. Could you hand it over to someone else to take care of it? Or could bringing in an outside expert help alleviate some of the stress?

Reply – finally, there are the big issues that genuinely need your time, focus and attention. It might feel uncomfortable or downright terrifying but these are the ones you really need to deal with. 

Practical strategies for dealing with worry, stress & anxiety

  1. Focused worry – set aside half an hour to intentionally focus on the problem and how you might deal with it. Set a time, write down what’s on your mind, brainstorm your options and then prioritise your first steps.
  2. Worst case scenario – what would you do and how would you cope if the worst case scenario actually eventuated? In every single conversation I’ve had with a client about the worst possible outcome, they have come to the conclusion that while it may not very palatable they would be endure it and ultimately to survive. Having come to terms with the worst case enables you to put that to rest and move forward with more confidence.
  3. Take a break – we all know that sunshine, fresh air, laughter & exercise can help put life into greater perspective. It’s probably not practical to be exercising at 3am, but try to make time during your day to get outside and move your body either on your own or with someone else depending on what you need that day. 
  4. Manage your mindset – our self talk and the way we manage our mindset has a huge impact on how well we cope in a crisis. Simple actions like journaling, gratitude and mindfulness can made a difference.
  5. Ask for help – being a business owner is tough and lonely. You can’t always talk to your friends or family about the challenges you’re facing particularly if they are financial issues. A good coach or business advisor can help you put things into perspective, formulate a plan and prioritise your actions. If your mental health is suffering don’t put off seeing a doctor or a counsellor. You’d see a physio or chiropractor if you strained your back. Our mind is just another part of our body that sometimes need a bit of assistance when it’s under strain.

If your business is keeping you up at night you don't have to go it alone. We can help with practical business advice and plenty of encouragement. Send us a message or book a time to have a chat. 

Useful resources

Depression.org.nz has a great self-test for anxiety or depression which could help you decide whether you have the warning signs of depression or anxiety. 

Helpline Numbers:

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans – 0800 726 666