Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Recently, I was asked to give a presentation at Fayetteville's "Networking #likeaboss " luncheon, on stress and business owners. As a small business owner myself, I understand all too well the stress that goes into managing gains and losses. Did you know that entrepreneurs are more likely than the general population to experience depression, addiction, anxiety, and severe joint pain? Entrepreneurs are less likely to take the time to recharge and provide themselves self-care. The pressures of bottom lines and overhead, can be all consuming; add in managing employees and you have a recipe for burnout and much worse.
Chronic stress affects many systems in the body, including but not limited to the endocrine system and parasympathetic system. Prolonged stress equals a constant bath of cortisol (stress hormone produced in the adrenals) which can burn out adrenals (located above the kidneys) and with severe exposure, cause kidney failure. This extended cortisol dump can also affect the liver by changing how we process glucose and fatty acids. And if this wasn't enough to force some self-care into your world, chronic stress can contribute to hippocampal shrinkage, as well as prefrontal cortex deficiencies. Stress literally shrinks the parts of the brain responsible for problem-solving, adaptation to challenge, emotional processing and regulation, impulse control, and regulation of glucose and insulin metabolism.
So, what do we do about it?!?
Below are some self-care tips and stress management resources:
What do you do for yourself? Having an appropriate amount of time, as if it were prescribed by a doctor, for yourself is imperative. You have to make time for this. Engage in activities that make your soul cry with joy - church, music, knitting, painting, hiking. Whatever it is that helps you feel connected to yourself and others; do it!
Pay Attention To Your Body
You're body knows better than your brain. Set aside the compulsion to exceed the previous week's revenue, or performance. You already have if you are listening to your body. Notice when the mind feels blurred and the tummy is screaming about being hungry. It knows better than your brain. Your brain is in a competition with itself.
You cannot be absolutely all work, and no play. You have to feed your whole body, and that requires planned relaxation, play, and down time. You can always make money, but you only live once. Find the balance between business owner, and living life to it's fullest. After all, that is one of the reasons we all went into business for ourselves: to live life to it's fullest!
Talk To Someone
It doesn't have to be a licensed therapist, but it is necessary to have someone who can provide you a safe place to unload your stress, frustrations, and emotions. Stuffing these down can result in serious health (mental and physical) issues. Find that safe person who will provide you with unconditional positive regard, and who is capable of managing your emotions and stress without drowning themselves.