The role of the small business owner, or freelancer, is a loosely-defined amalgam of time, tasks, projects, and nine million other responsibilities to pull you in every direction manageable. There are times — believe me because it’s happened to me — when it can all become too much and you buckle under the weight of what appears to be the impossible. Any small business owner is going to face this at some point in her career, and even freelancers may reach a point where they wonder what they were thinking getting into the do-it-yourself gig. The good news is these moments of anxiety are only temporary. The better news is that there are some things you can do to alleviate stress and stay focused on your business. Here are some things that have worked wonders for me.
- Think positive
So much of business-induced anxiety is caused by negative thought patterns. Thinking positive is an exercise in weeding out the harmful thoughts. It doesn’t mean you go Orwellian on your mental habits, it means you properly address the negative and accentuate the positive.
- Let it go
Most of the things we worry about are beyond our control, especially if you are a small business owner. Learn to accept your limitations and let the rest go. After all, what is the point in worry over something you have no control?
Take some time to learn a few relaxation exercises, and do them. Breathing exercises, meditation, and a few stretches can fend off the stress and restore your mind and body. And learning how to control your anxiety using relaxation exercises can help you nip stress in the bud, before it consumes you.
- Exercise regularly
Those of us running our own business have plenty of excuses for not exercising, mainly that we don’t have time. Make time. Being in shape is essential to deflecting the corrosive effects of too much stress.
- Eat healthy
Diet is on the other side of the coin from exercise. Combined, they go a long way in building up the body’s immune system. Eat smart. Junk food is like fuel for stress.
- Learn to say no
Small business owners and freelancers are usually stuck with having to do it all. If the hat doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. In other words, say no to the irrelevant, especially if it is going to pull you in yet another direction.
- Get enough sleep
Deadlines have a tendency to keep us up at all hours of the night racing to complete the final deliverable. On the nights you can avoid it, get a good nights sleep. Your body needs the restorative powers of sleep to rebuild its defenses for the next day.
- Practice better time management
Whatever method you find works best for you, find a time management system and stick with it. If you can, use an online tool, such as Intervals, to manage the daily workflow of your business. Most of the web-based tools out there do a great job at taking on most of the workload that would otherwise fall onto your shoulders. Project management tools are great for delegating, communicating, and collaborating with your team and with clients.