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Stress relief ideas for Stress Awareness Month 2023

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

A little pressure to get things completed on time or to a good standard can help to drive us forward and be successful in life. If we never worried about showing up on time or finishing things when we said we would, I think most of us would spend a heck of a lot more time lazing about in our PJs, don’t you?!

When this spills over into full-on stress though, it can be a slippery slope to burnout if left unchecked and untreated.

April was Stress Awareness Month (and I certainly was aware of stress!), so I thought it would be helpful to look at what stress looks and feels like and discuss a few ways to help you reduce your stress levels as a solo business owner.

Stress relief ideas for Stress Awareness Month 2023
Are you getting overwhelmed with everything you need to do in your business?

What does stress feel like?

Stress can show up in so many different ways. You know some of those niggles you’ve just come to accept as part of grown-up life? Yep, probably stress-related! And Stress Awareness Month is a good time to remind us to reduce these high levels of stress we're trying to function on.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the signs of stress then we'll look at stress relief ideas later. It's actually astonished how much stress can affect our bodies in different ways:

  • Irritability

  • Anxiety

  • A racing mind/being unable to ‘switch off’

  • Low mood and depression

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing

  • Panic attacks

  • Sleep issues

  • Sore muscles and headaches

  • Fatigue

You can’t pour from an empty cup

When faced with a stressful situation, the hormones we produce can have long-term effects on our bodies. In addition, the way we respond to stress can also affect our emotional well-being and those around us.

As a business owner, you’re responsible for revenue generation for you and your family. If you’re failing to recognise your body’s signs of stress, you’re setting yourself up for potential problems down the line.

If you become ill from stress, who’s going to keep things ticking over and what effect might this have on your business going forward? Make sure you look into insurance that covers you with illness if you have to be off work for a certain amount of time. I know Simply Business offers this in some insurance policies for small business owners.

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, if you’re swerving too close to exhaustion and burnout, it’s time to look at ways to reduce stress levels for your sake… and those who rely on you.

Five stress relief ideas to decrease your stress levels

1. Know your stress drivers!

Do you want everything to be perfect? Do you feel like you must always remain strong? Are you always in a hurry? Do you want to try your hardest in everything you do? Are you a people pleaser?

There are usually external drivers affecting how we perceive and react to situations, and it’s these drivers that help keep us in a stress loop!

Why not take a few minutes to think about your stress drivers? Identifying why you put additional pressure on yourself can really help you to see the bigger picture and actually see stress in a completely different light.

I think we all know a perfectionist, don’t we?! That person who likes everything to be just so. Perfectionists are hard-working and produce high-quality work. BUT they can be easily prone to stress as they expect a lot of others and are sometimes prone to procrastinating and overthinking!

If you’re the kind of person to wants to be strong all the time and finds it hard for people to see your vulnerabilities, you may find yourself withdrawing under stress and holding all your emotions in.

“I’ve got so much to do and so little time to do it!” Does this sound familiar? People who are always in a hurry tend to focus on delivering work quickly, but they often take too much on and find it difficult to say no! (This one’s definitely me!)

The ‘try-hards’ are like a dog with a bone. They just won’t give up! They’re super hard-working and show perseverance in everything they do, but the effort of trying can easily lead to stress and burnout.

And lastly, there are the people-pleasers! Well-liked, good company and friendship. BUT they tend to worry too much about what others think and fail to neglect their own needs.

I wonder which camp (or camps) you fall into? We often have two or three main stress drivers affecting how we approach life.

If you’d like to delve into this in more detail, there is a great questionnaire you can complete. You can find it here.

2. Outsource and delegate

Now you understand a little bit more about yourself and your approach to your daily tasks; perhaps it’s time to draw upon some of the talented people out there who are just waiting to support you and your business.

It may be co-workers who are looking for new challenges or responsibilities, or it may be subcontracting some of those tasks that you know you don’t really need to be doing but you’re unsure or scared of outsourcing.

It’s time to bite the bullet and see some stresses float away before your very eyes! Reach out to friends or contacts in our Gossip Gals network to get recommendations for outsourcing or get tips on the dos and don’ts of delegating within your existing team.

3. Take breaks

Listen to your body! When you start to feel overwhelmed and stressed, a break is well overdue. You might think downtime is a waste of time and will get in the way of what you’re trying to achieve, but it’s the complete opposite.

Taking regular breaks can help in so many ways. For example, going to make a cuppa gets you standing up and stretching those muscles a little, and 5 or 10 minutes away from your desk gives your eyes a well-deserved break.

A little fresh air can give us a whole new perspective on life. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after a quick stroll around the block? Suddenly that email that was really stressing you out seems like a minor task you’re ready to tackle.

4. Curb some of the ideas

All business owners have done this… we want to do everything, and we want it done yesterday! Having lots of ideas and a clear vision of where you want to head is awesome, but finding that you can’t implement things quickly enough or feel like there is so much to do is stressful.

Sit down with a pad and paper, jot down all your ideas, then look at which ones are realistic or the top priority, and create a plan to focus on JUST those ones.

Keep hold of your master ideas list and then when you have conquered your priority ones, you can revisit it and create a new plan for the next ideas. A lot of ladies in our business women network relate to this one of the stress relief ideas. So many ideas, so little time! Just curb them, hopefully, you're in business for years to come, and you will get to them all.

5. Look after yourself!

And the last of our stress relief ideas on this is a reminder of something we should always be doing. Not just in Stress Awareness Month.

Rather than waiting for the signs of stress to come knocking, build some preventative measures into your routine. When it comes to self-care, the three main areas to focus on are:

  • Rest – are you getting enough good quality sleep? Remember to build enough downtime into your daily routine, especially just before bed. And remember to put down those laptops and phones to avoid too much blue light before you get some shut-eye.

  • Exercise – rather than waking up and hitting the emails straight away, could you start your day with a short walk or some light yoga? It’s a great way to set the tone for the day and ensure you’re getting some exercise under your belt early on.

  • Diet – we’re all guilty of consuming too much caffeine and sugar. And feeling stressed only seems to increase these cravings! A few small changes to our diet can make a big difference in how we feel. So have a think… are you drinking enough water? Are you having regular, nutritious meals? Where can you add more fruit and vegetables to your meals? I cut down to decaf tea 10 years ago now, and it helps keep my anxiety levels down.

I really hope you’ve found these stress relief ideas helpful.

If you’re interested in connecting with a brilliant business women network who can empathise with these feelings, come and join our Gossip Gals Facebook group or join us at one of our friendly networking meetings!

We’d love to welcome you!

Emma x


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