At some point, even the most relaxed and chilliest person experiences stress and anxiety. It’s just a part of life and can often be managed relatively. But, what about the nagging stress and anxiety that never leaves you alone? There is much written nowadays about stress and anxiety, and thankfully, stress is finally being mentioned in tech and entrepreneurship. Now, you even have permission to reduce your stress and anxiety.
This type of chronic stress shouldn’t be ignored as it can lead to serious effects on the body like:
- Muscle tension
- Chest pain and heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Upset stomach
Additionally, it negatively impacts your relationships, work performance, and productivity. In short, when not addressed, chronic stress and anxiety can be detrimental in all aspects of your life.
The good news is that you can reduce stress and anxiety by doing the following.
1. Identify Your Triggers
Before going much further, you first need to determine what’s causing you to struggle with stress and anxiety. After figuring this out, you can then look for solutions. For example, if a client is the main culprit, then you may want to fire them. Even though you may lose out on the income, is it worth more than your well-being?
You may even discover that you get stressed and anxious over things that you have no control over. In this case, you may want to take a deep breath and focus on what you can control and accept that this is entirely out of your hands.
In either case, jot down your worries and look for patterns. You may even realize that merely writing these feelings down makes you feel a little better.
2. Take Care of Your Body
You’re bound to hear this a million times. But, that’s because taking care of yourself is one of the easiest and most effective ways to calm yourself down.
Even if you don’t feel like it, make sure that you eat healthy at work and home, get plenty of sleep and be active daily. If time is a concern, there’s always time the day to go for a walk or stretch. The ley is to get moving so that you can release those endorphins.
“Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, Ph.D., told WebMD.
If you’re new to meditation, it’s not that hard. Simply sit up straight and have both feet on the floor. Next, close your eyes and focus on a positive mantra, such as “I feel at peace.” Then, using one hand on your belly, sync this mantra with your breaths. If something else pops into your mind, let it “float by like clouds.”
I would also suggest that you use essential oils or light candles during this time as well. Scents like lavender, jasmine, orange, and sandalwood can help decrease anxiety. Maybe you need to take a soak in a bubble bath with candles all around you. Take a moment to think and consider what’s best –, and you will likely be inspired by the correct path you should take.
4. Learn How to Self-Soothe
Whenever we are “faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body’s sympathetic nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes,” writes Jamie Long Psy.D. in Psychology Today. “Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race,” aka the fight or flight response.
This natural survival mechanism can come in handy during a life-threatening emergency. But, “when the threat is imagined (e.g., I’m going to bomb this presentation, and everyone will know I’m a fraud), the fight or flight response is unnecessary and very uncomfortable,” says Long.
The best way to resolve this is through self-soothing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing. You can also try positive self-talk and tightening and releasing your muscles.
5. Guided Imagery
“Guided imagery is like taking a short vacation in your mind,” explains Elizabeth Scott, MS. “It can involve taking a moment to imagine yourself being in your ‘happy place’ — maybe picturing yourself sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you.”
Until you know how to do this thinking — or meditation — on your own, you can begin “with a recording where you listen to someone walk you through a peaceful scene.” Once you’ve got this down, all you have to do is shut your eyes and escape somewhere peaceful. During your journey, don’t forget to think “about all the sensory experiences you’d engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you’re really there.”
6. Take Control
It may not seem like it initially, but there is a solution to every problem. However, if you remain passive and don’t grab the bull by the horns, then nothing will change. I know this can be intimidating, but once you take control of your own actions, you’ll feel more empowered and confident. If you are working from home as a freelancer, here are a couple of ideas, and here are six tips for taking back control and performing better.
7. Do Something That You Enjoy
- Spending time with friends, family, and even your pets.
- Listening to your favorite music.
- Doing something creative like writing or drawing.
- Playing your favorite sport.
- Doing a hobby like gardening or sewing.
I’ve found that volunteering is the best way for me to reduce stress. Maybe it’s not the volunteering, per se, but somehow, being with others helps. You think higher thoughts, you feel good about yourself — you gain a better understanding of others — and you make a difference you can see.
8. Reassess Your To-Do-List
Take a real good look at your to-do-list. Is it daunting and full of non-essential items? If so, reorganize your list so that it only contains no more than your five top priorities for the day. With a great to-do list, you’re not wasting your time on unproductive activities. You’ll be able to see those actions that are helping you achieve your goals. As a result, you’ll be more likely to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
What if you can’t eliminate specific tedious tasks? See if these tasks can be automated or delegated to someone else. It may cost you a couple of bucks, but it will be money well spent.
9. Don’t Be a Cheapskate
Speaking of spending money, Calendar’s Max Palmer suggests that you know when to be frugal and when not to be cheap. For example, make sure that you set aside the appropriate amount of money in your budget for legal and insurance fees.
“In startups, Murphy’s Law will always come to bite you in the ‘you know what,’” adds Palmer. “What can go wrong, probably will.” So, to keep your mind at ease, “make sure you’re covered” by working with “a reliable legal counsel. And, “don’t skip out on shielding your business from potential liabilities.”
10. Schedule Time Off
I’m well aware that you have a business to run, and the last thing on your mind is taking time off. But, you’re not a machine. You need time to rest and recharge. Not only will this increase your productivity, but it will also help alleviate your stress and anxiety.
During your scheduled time off, which can be weeknights after six p.m., weekends, or scheduled vacations — make sure that you completely disconnect from work. To completely disconnect — think words like detaching, disengage (my favorite is, sever!). Whatever will mean (to you) not responding to work-related texts, emails, or Slack notifications. Sever, sever, sever.
Count on and depend that this is your time to unplug and enjoy life. Don’t feel guilty about it either. Okay, maybe like me, you’ll feel guilty — but you’ve earned it. A great truth I’ve learned is that the world won’t end if you’ve been off-the-grid for a couple of hours.