Since the recession began in 2007, corporate America has slashed thousands of employees from its payroll, including many working women. As a result, some women have become business owners, either taking advantage of their newfound freedom or finding they had few alternatives after long stretches of joblessness.
Even some women who kept their jobs in the midst of the cost-cutting have considered striking out on their own, seeing little security in their current employment.
Facing a layoff, starting a business and feeling insecure about the future are all stress-inducing experiences. And stress can be a major health problem. In fact, a 2010 study presented to the American Heart Association found that women who face job insecurity are more likely to be overweight and have high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. It also found that women who are stressed at work are more likely to experience heart disease than other working women.
Although work stress is not always easy to avoid, it can be managed. Lower stress levels are not only healthier they also make it easier to reap the emotional rewards of work and workplace relationships.
5 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Being a Business Owner
- Take a close look at the source. What is causing the stress? Is it something that can be controlled? If so, what are the short-term fix and the long-term solution?
- Make changes. Some problems have easy fixes, like setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier to allow extra time to get ready and out the door in the morning. Others, such as lining up financing, will need a more structured plan.
- Employ coping mechanisms. At the first sign of stress, sit back and take deep breaths – it’s known to reduce stress. Even better: walk away. If possible, get outside for 10 minutes of fresh air and exercise. Or take a mental break by reading a funny story, uplifting poem or positive affirmations.
- Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine can add to anxiety. Many women are more sensitive to its effects than they think. Replace afternoon coffee breaks with herbal tea or short walks. Reducing caffeine intake can also improve sleep patterns, which can be a big stress reliever.
- Find a mentor. No matter what a business owner is going through, other women have been there. Mentors can reduce stress by offering feedback on business decisions, giving advice or just listening and understanding.
Less Stress Means Enjoying the Emotional Rewards of Working
As stress levels decrease, it’s easier to feel the emotional rewards of all the hard work that comes with owning a business, such as:
- Feeling a sense of accomplishment
- Doing interesting work
- Being recognized in the community
- Helping others reach their goals
Some women fail to notice and appreciate the emotional rewards of running a business because they’re focused on the details. That’s when it’s helpful to join a women’s networking group, business club or online women’s entrepreneur group. There, women can find the support and pats on the back they don’t often give themselves, along with opportunities to cultivate valuable working relationships.
How to Build and Enjoy Working Relationships
Entrepreneurs need to cultivate good working relationships with the people who can help them succeed, even if that means you have to provide some type of leadership to teach others how it’s done. Whether they’re partners, customers, vendors or key community members, here’s how to help these relationships flourish:
- Bring value to the relationship.Keep in mind that relationship building is about others, not oneself. People are more willing to support those who have helped them out. So, to build a strong network, find ways to help other people – it’s rewarding and good for business.
- Stay top-of-mind. Make an impression. Successful relationship builders use mutual interests or common acquaintances to connect themselves to new contacts. They also consistently reach out with phone calls, emails or thank-you notes, and work at building relationships.
- Stay positive. Negative people are a turn-off, especially among entrepreneurs who are working hard to build something great. Staying optimistic, encouraging others’ ideas and avoiding negative comments are the keys to building better relationships and enjoying them more, as well.
Running a business can bring financial and emotional rewards, as well as a great deal of stress. When the stress that comes with being an entrepreneur is managed properly, however, the emotional boost of doing something well kicks in. Try incorporating these tools to reduce work stress, and increase the enjoyment of entrepreneurship and working relationships.