How to Manage Stress and Anxiety as an EntrepreneurMay 19, 2023
How often do you find yourself feeling stressed and anxious in your business?
If your answer is "often!" you're not alone, even though it may feel like it.
Entrepreneurship and mental health is not a popular topic. Most entrepreneurs are too consumed trying to look polished and put together online (and talking about the reality of stress and anxiety can feel counterintuitive to being perceived as someone who they want others to look up to).
But building and running a business is no easy feat, and there’s not necessarily a sense of security built-in like there may be with traditional jobs – which can only lead to more stress and anxiety for entrepreneurs. In addition to outside pressures that can cause stress and anxiety for entrepreneurs, we sometimes compound the problems by placing strict rules, deadlines, and criticisms on ourselves.
As entrepreneurs it’s essential that we learn to effectively manage our stress and anxiety since we are the only “boss” we have at work, and in life. Without set hours, pre-made to-do lists, and a work location outside of our homes, it can become so easy to never unplug, never de-stress, and never truly recover from the stress and anxiety we’re feeling before we hit the point of burnout.
As someone who has previously worked myself right up to the edge and encountered many health problems because of pent-up stress and anxiety, it’s important to me that no other entrepreneurs feel that way, and get to that point in their lives and businesses.
Today, I want to share with you some of my best strategies for not only managing stress in your life with things you can do offline, but also some things you can optimize in your business to help manage the stress that it may be causing you – because that’s something that is too often overlooked.
How do Successful People Manage Stress and Anxiety?
However you define success, most people will experience some degree of stress and anxiety on their path to getting there. Whether you look up to CEOs, authors, nomads, stay at home moms, or anyone else – there are a few scientifically proven ways to manage the stress you may be experiencing.
The first of these methods, shared by Forbes, is focusing on the problem immediately in front of you. Rather than trying to create a work-around or hoping to ignore it long enough for it to go away on its own and inevitably just letting it grow and grow… the key is to identify the point of stress, and then remove it. After all, you can’t effectively solve a problem if you don’t know what’s causing it.
This next tip from the World Economic Forum helps highlight just how important it is to believe in yourself. Allow yourself to feel assured and confident that you CAN accomplish the task in front of you, and you are significantly more likely not only to finish it, but to finish it well. If you need a little help believing this yourself, take a line out of Indra Nooyi’s playbook where she says,
"In my heart I said, 'I can do this better than anyone else can, and if everything else fails, they're going to come to me and say, 'Fix it,' because I know I'm that good.”
Finally, the Harvard Business Review shares that one of the most important things we can do is have some compassion for ourselves and tune out all the noise we come up against. Don’t be shy to cut yourself some slack without criticism or defensiveness every now and then – we all need it sometimes. I hear a lot that women feel the need to be harder on themselves in order to “reach success…” but it’s actually been scientifically proven that this isn’t true! Practicing self compassion through stressful times can actually reduce stress and increase performance. And usually as entrepreneurs, we have to be the ones to take the lead and show compassion for ourselves – if not, no one else is going to. Tim Cook says,
"In today's environment, the world is full of cynics and you have to tune them out. Because if not, they become a cancer in your mind, in your thinking, and you begin thinking that you can't or that life is negative."
Managing Stress and Anxiety in Your Life
Our businesses are not the only important things about us. But, I know first-hand that sometimes that can be a difficult concept to grasp when we tie so much of our self worth as entrepreneurs to the “success” of our businesses. To get out of our heads and away from our desks, is sometimes the ultimate stress-fighting action we can take. Once we’re up, here are a few things we can do to manage stress and anxiety throughout our lives.
Please note, I am not a doctor, and these are just things I’ve learned from personal experience which I’m sharing with you today to hopefully help you manage stress and anxiety in your life like I have in mine!
Finding food that you enjoy eating, and that properly fuels and energizes your brain and body is a great way to help manage your stress. Did you know that our stomachs and digestive systems are directly connected to the stress centers in our brains? The food we eat literally makes us who we are – so focus on eating healthy, fulfilling foods that your body doesn’t have sensitivity to.
Meditation doesn’t have to be this big, scary, intimidating thing that we aren’t even sure how to do. Meditation can simply be a few moments of silence focusing on your breath and clearing your mind. When we sit down and spend time with our mind, even for just a few minutes, it can make a huge difference in lowering our stress and anxiety levels, giving us some much needed time to relax and re-center.
If you need a little guidance, I have found the Calm app to be very helpful, with hundreds of guided meditations at various lengths.
Take Breaks to Recharge
Taking a lunch or walk break is such a great way to have a more productive second half of the day, keep your energy up and your stress and anxiety levels down.
I've been guilty in the past of pushing through and not listening to what I need in the moment for the sake of checking one more thing off my list.
Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that when I try to push through, knowing that my body wants a break, I end up mentally foggy, exhausted, and quickly lose my momentum.
Get High-Quality Sleep
If we aren’t sleeping, we aren’t functioning at our best! Especially with the technology-charged world we live in today, it can be so easy to lose important sleep that we need to be able to function at our highest level and operate without added anxiety and stress. Beyond just getting enough sleep, we also need to focus on getting good sleep.
For example, going to bed stressed out and worried about what tomorrow will bring leads to low-quality sleep. This is why I've learned to give myself at least 2 hours between work and bed, because if I don't, my mind doesn't have time to transition out of work and it will keep me awake (often with stressed or anxious thoughts) all night long. Giving myself space between work and sleep allows me to fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more rested.
Exercise or Move Regularly
The more I exercise and move, the more energy I have! I’ve found that this is one way to actually reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety almost immediately. And, it doesn’t have to be a full-blown gym session to count as exercise or movement.
We have to be mindful about the exercises we try to incorporate into our day. If we're stressed out in general, and then add intense exercise on top of it, that can actually add more stress to our system overall – this actually happened to me when during a particularly stressful time in my life and business, I started doing CrossFit (really high intensity workouts) and ended up with adrenal fatigue.
So just be mindful about the kind of exercise you're choosing and know that in some cases, something more easeful might actually be more beneficial. Even a walk around the block gets our blood flowing and brains working better!
Allow Time and Space for Creativity
Allowing yourself to be freely creative, without a plan or direction, creates spaciousness in your mind. Whatever your creative outlet is – whether it’s drawing, painting, cooking, photography, dance, writing, singing, gardening, or anything else – give yourself the space to create without complications and competition, even if it’s just a few minutes every week. This is a great way to not only take your mind out of stress mode, but also to spend time doing the things you love, that fill you up, and that allow you to show up as the best version of yourself each day.
Managing Stress and Anxiety in Your Business
Plan Your Week on Sundays
When you plan your week ahead of time, you can properly space projects so you’re working on your most important tasks at the best time, and not overloading yourself with meetings or calls. Not only that, but it will stop the stress from compounding over the week because you already know what is going to get done, and when you’re going to do it.
I personally plan out both work tasks and personal tasks like meditation, yoga, working out, hiking, and walking my dog, which allows me to make sure that I do them, and that I consciously make time to prioritize my own health and wellness. The Monk Manual is a great tool that has helped me streamline my thoughts and to-dos into one easy-to-follow system, letting me live my life without the stress of wondering what’s coming next!
Set Clear Priorities
It can be easy to fall into “shiny object syndrome” with the abundance of creative energy and constant flow of new ideas that so many entrepreneurs experience. But, if we don’t know our priorities, then we can get so easily distracted and lost with our heads on a constant swivel, and end up taking on too many projects before we finish what we’re currently working on – only leading to more stress and anxiety.
The Monk Manual also helps me set clear priorities by visually showing me what my largest and smallest priorities are (based on how I set them up), which allows me to stay focused on working towards those goals.
Client Satisfaction and Receiving Criticism
A huge source of stress and anxiety for me, especially in the early days of my business, was worrying about client satisfaction and being criticized on social media and elsewhere.
In terms of client work, it’s important to set clear expectations and deliverables, so both you and your client know what is to be delivered when, and expectations are aligned. When I was first starting out, it was too easy to stress out over whether I was “doing enough,” and adding clear deliverables onto projects really helped me avoid this added stress and pressure.
Now, I know that I don’t attract an overly-critical audience to my brand to begin with… but I was still worried about being criticized online! The one thing that’s helped me combat this the most is really taking the time to deeply understand and OWN my brand values, point of view, and intolerances. The only way criticism could really stress me out is if I questioned what I stood for in the first place.
Reduce Negative Self Talk By Defining Your Own Version of Success
During the early years of my business, I often felt like I wasn’t enough and wasn’t as “successful” as I thought I should be. I judged myself harshly and spoke to myself with criticism and negativity, to the point of creating a lot of stress and anxiety.
One issue that kept me drowning in stress and anxiety from the negative self talk is that I never defined what “enough” or “success” actually looked like to me. As a result, I was full of stress, running myself ragged trying to reach some undefined place that I internalized from outside messages from social media or coaches I had followed.
Once I defined what success looked like on my terms, I was able to relax because I had clear direction as to where I was going and could stop burning myself out and stressing about getting to an undefined destination where it turns out, I didn't even want to go.
Optimize Your Content Creation Workflows
Content creation is one of the biggest sources of stress and anxiety I hear from entrepreneurs in my community. From what I see, so many people unnecessarily overcomplicate the process! The drive to overcomplicate is an epidemic. When you strip away all the fluff, you can really begin to focus on the task at hand and achieve your goals for the day.
Bill Gates says about Warren Buffet,
"His ability to boil things down, to just work on the things that really count, to think through the basics — it's so amazing that he can do that. It's a special form of genius."
While we know that staying consistent in marketing ourselves is an important part of business, it can be incredibly difficult to do when you aren’t sure what to say or post in the first place! Consistency, when you have a strategy in place, is what allows you to start building relationships through content marketing and position yourself as an authority in your space (and, in doing so, grow your business and fill your programs).
If that sounds like a lot to handle on top of everything else you have going on – stop letting it cause you extra stress! The Consistent Content Creation System inside of the Impact Tribe is designed to save you time, frustration, and overwhelm trying to decide what to post on social media and then having to write captions to match.There are 12 full months of content prompts, as well as a bank of hooks, calls to actions, brand archetype-related words, and more. Get immediate access to all 12 months of content when you join us in the Impact Tribe today!
Establish a Brand Identity You Feel Confident About
If you skipped building the foundations of your business and catapulted yourself in front of the world (HERE I AM INSTAGRAM!) without having your brand together, then you’re probably going to feel stressed every time you show up online.
Creating a cohesive brand identity (messaging, visuals and offers) gives you everything you need to feel confident showing up and hitting publish, because you can stress less knowing that what you share is aligned with who you are, what you stand for and the message you want to be known for.
In the Impact Tribe’s, “Boom Your Brand” course, I lead you through clarifying the foundation of your brand personality (such as values, point of view, vision, mission, intolerances, etc.) and then communicating who you are and what you stand for through clear messaging and beautiful visuals.
Create Clear Visual Brand Guidelines
Being crystal-clear and highly intentional about your visual brand allows you to create a curated experience for your clients and community, and allows you to determine what you’re known and remembered for. AND, it saves you all the time and stress it might otherwise take to create branded visuals.
I’ve been releasing a new set of resources in the Impact Tribe – our exclusive Archetypes-Based Brand Bundles. Our Brand Bundles are completely customizable in Canva and include all the building blocks and templates you need to create your entire visual brand identity – including logos, font sets, color palettes, marketing templates, social graphics and so much more!
Our Brand Bundles have been made with lots of love to help you create a professional, relatable brand that’s authentic to YOU, without spending thousands on a designer!
All that’s left for you to do is plug in your copy and post to your socials. Designing branded visuals has never been easier!
While the Impact Tribe won’t cure all the stress and anxiety in your life and business, it will help you get off the roller coaster of not knowing where to focus or what to do to grow your audience, expand your impact, and build a brand people will rally behind!
With courses, community, coaching, and resources you’ll have everything you need to build a business that embodies your purpose, and eventually works for you while you enjoy your life and your business.
If you’re ready to say a big, bold YES to reclaiming the joy you desire to feel in your business, stress less, feel supported by an incredible community of like-minded women, and make day-to-day (and big picture) business dealings so. much. easier… then join us in the Impact Tribe! I can’t wait to support you!