Self-employment: you make the rules, you decide your working hours, your working space, how procedures will go and when are you supposed to deliver the work. Sounds great, right?
Well, sure it is, but as everything in life, it comes with a catch. It is highly stressful! This is mainly caused by the high levels of uncertainty, the obnoxious amounts of work that don’t end once you go home, the inability to separate personal life from professional life and in some cases, the lack of co-workers.
Stress can be harmful. However, It doesn’t have to be! We need to learn how to keep it from becoming a chronic condition by learning to manage it and separate work stress from personal life stress. The difference with normal work stress and self-employment work stress is how it can affect the final work. By being self-employed, there is no safety net and a clear head and calmed attitude are required to keep the business going.
Stress can cause sickness, stomach issues, heart conditions, lack of sleep, among other things and for that reason, we shouldn’t dismiss it as something that will eventually go away. Let’s tackle it from the source and actually enjoy the great perks of self-employment! People always say that prevention is always the best tactic, but since entrepreneurial life can be overwhelming, I won’t try to sell that idea to you, nevertheless, I can tell you how to manage the stress caused by the self-employed life.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of saying this. Food is energy and entrepreneurs need energy. It’s as simple as that. You can’t expect to run a car on air, right? Then don’t expect your body to do it either.
Take a break. Just do it…
As a follow-up of the previous point, sit down without your phone or your computer and eat right. It’s not just about eating, it´s about using that time as a bubble of calmness. Every time you eat something, do it mindfully and train yourself to see it as a break from stress; avoid thinking of work, or tasks or to-do lists, and just concentrate on your food. I’m not asking you to sacrifice an hour of your day for this but take those well-deserved 5 minutes to eat your apple at peace, away from the office.
If the day is nice, go enjoy it. Do something outside that isn’t work that you would do anyway regardless of the weather. If walking to the office takes the same time as getting the metro, why not walk? Maybe, eat your lunch sitting on a bench outside? It’s nice to be reminded that our problems are not as significant as we let ourselves believe.
I would suggest meditation if I couldn’t picture you rolling your eyes at me, so I won’t. Nevertheless, learn how to breathe correctly and make it a habit. When we are stressed, we start taking shorter and shorter breaths meaning that suddenly, we stop feeding the brain with enough oxygen, which makes us confused and unable to see thing clearly. When you are feeling overwhelmed, sit down, close your eyes (it just takes two minutes, I promise) and breathe; count slowly to eight while you inhale, hold your breath for 4 seconds and exhale counting slowly to 8. Do it five times, and each time, try opening up your chest more, letting the air flow through you. Trust me, it feels great!
Our well-being is our responsibility. Now, we can definitely ignore it for a while, as long as we can deal with the consequences of it which are low performance, low productivity, and bad health. If you are an entrepreneur, I would suggest not to ignore your well-being and try enjoying the experience of creating something on your own without stress pulling you down. Managing stress can be fast and easy, it’s just a matter of trying it, and once you do, share with me which one was more effective for you!