By Erin Jablonski
“Keep calm and carry on.” This simple but effective phrase originally debuted in 1939 as a motivational poster produced by the British government to raise public morale during the advent of WWII. The poster has since exploded in popularity over the last several years, as people have found comfort in the quintessentially British advice, and have applied its affirming message to numerous aspects of life.
One specific area in which the phrase is applicable is entrepreneurship. Founding and running a business can be an incredibly chaotic endeavor—new ventures involve confronting risk, and no matter what level of success you achieve, unforeseen obstacles are a daily struggle.
Despite these challenges, it’s imperative that you retain your composure; not only does losing your cool on a consistent basis negatively impact your performance, but it can also wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health.
Here are five ways successful entrepreneurs practice stress management that will help you navigate life’s challenges with greater ease:
- They Keep Realistic Expectations
A lot of business leaders are causing themselves undue stress based on the unachievable standards to which they hold themselves. No one is perfect, and worshipping at the cult of perfection will leave you consistently disappointed. In fact, instead of being feared, failure should be viewed as a learning opportunity from which you mature as an entrepreneur and discover areas in which you can improve. Changing your mindset and letting go of your fear of failure can release a heavy burden.
- They Appreciate What They Have
As the saying goes, “Stop and smell the roses.” Taking time to appreciate what you have is a good way to reevaluate your priorities and put your current situation in perspective. It’s also scientifically proven to improve your mood. According to research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, people who work daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 23%, which results in improved mood, energy, and physical well-being.
- They Use Their Support System
No person is an island. As entrepreneurs, we’re proud of our independence and individuality. However, in terms of stress, it helps to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Talking to your peers about your stress can be a therapeutic method for handling the negative effects of stress. Also, your support network can provide you with tips for managing your stress, as well as give a much-needed morale boost.
- They Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise is an essential component of a healthy work/life balance, as it provides a release for all that pent-up work-related anxiety. Not only does physical activity result in a positive physical impact on your body (lower blood pressure, healthier heart, stronger immune system, etc.), but it also benefits your mental strength. Exercise increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. The resulting rush causes long-term optimism and self-confidence. Exercise also helps clear your head, as participating in a singular non-work related activity also allows you to re-focus. Finally, it gets your creative juices flowing. A 2012 study by the Montreal Heart Institute showed aerobic exercise increased cognitive function. Get out there and move!
- They Rely on Routine
One major cause of stress is the number of decisions we have to make in a day. Relying on simple, consistent routines like having the same meal for lunch, conducting your calls at a specific time, or even simplifying your wardrobe can help save your sanity for the bigger decisions that really matter. For example, President Obama mentioned his stress-coping mechanisms in an interview with Vanity Fair:
“You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day… I [try] to pare down decisions. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
What are your favorite ways to reduce stress? Leave us your suggestions in the comments section. And always remember: it’s easy to stay positive when everything’s going your way; it’s how you respond to stress events that sets you apart from the crowd.