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Managing your stress while managing your business

Doctors frequently remind us that stress is bad for our health. But for small business owners, the stress of managing every part of the operation is just part of the job. Women in business also tend to experience higher levels of anxiety and stress, and they tend to experience it differently than men.

Of course, very few people live lives without stress. Overwhelming stress, however, does not have to be standard operating procedure. Below are some ways business owners like you can reduce the amount and impact of stress in their lives.

Manage your time

Find a routine that works for you and stick to it, write lists and delegate when you can. Set realistic timelines and goals. Your calendar should include time to clear your inbox, focused work time and time to manage the operating side of your business. Giving each task a spot allows you to focus on what is in front of you and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. If you find you are in a rut or procrastinating, switch your routine up to kick your brain into another gear.

Put yourself on the list

Your daily schedule needs to include time for you. Business leaders say eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and cultivating outside interests help them keep their stress in check. Many also find practicing mindfulness helps them focus, prioritize and nip overwhelming stress in the bud.

Putting yourself on the list also means managing your relationships. Unplug so you can be fully present with people who bring you joy and support. Use a mantra that builds you up. Find people (ideally those not involved in your business) with whom you can be honest and whom you trust to keep you on track. Avoid dwelling on things you cannot control or getting bogged down in unproductive negativity and people. Set boundaries for your time, your values and your goals and then respect them.

Practice compassion

Many business owners chase unattainable perfection and engage in comparison to measure their success, regardless of how financially successful or rewarding their business is. However, according to Dr. Brene Brown, perfectionism and comparison are more strongly correlated with anxiety than with achievement.

When you practice self-compassion, on the other hand, you are rejecting perfectionism and building up your resiliency to shame and self-doubt. This means developing a growth mindset, living authentically and being as kind to yourself as you are to others. It means you forgive yourself and believe you are enough. And it means asking for and accepting help — including professional help — if you are struggling.

When you are running a business, managing your stress is as important as managing your finances. Just like bookkeeping, stress cannot be avoided altogether. But, with practice and patience, you can learn to handle it so you can get back to the business you love.