5 Ways to Manage Entrepreneurial Stress and Overcome Anxiety

The entrepreneurial lifestyle is one that many aspire to, and with good reason – it can be fulfilling, challenging and rewarding, both emotionally and financially. But there’s no denying that with entrepreneurship comes a lot of stress, anxiety and loneliness that can take its toll on your health if you don’t manage it properly. 

From working alone, spending too many hours focusing on the business and taking stressful risks to the inconsistency of money coming in and market fluctuations, there’s a lot that can impact your mental health when you’re running your own business. 

With this in mind, here are some suggestions of how you can manage the stress associated with entrepreneurship and overcome anxiety.  

Table of contents

Take pen to paper: accepting your anxiety 

Numerous studies have shown that journaling can be beneficial for the mind during stressful periods and it can be a helpful outlet for your emotions when you’re overwhelmed. 

The process of putting pen to paper and emptying your mind of any thoughts can be incredibly therapeutic, but it can also be effective at preventing negative thoughts from running away from you

When you see your anxieties in front of you, it’s easier to work through them and to find solutions that can be difficult to conceive when you’re in the throes of anxiety. You’ll also likely find that many of the scenarios you’re building up in your head (often as a result of imposter syndrome) are merely unhelpful thoughts rather than real risks, and that once they’re written down and seen in a new light, they become less powerful. 

Top Tip: When it comes to journaling, there’s no one-size-fits-all. You have the freedom to make it whatever you want it to be – it’s why this method of managing anxiety as an entrepreneur is so effective. Draw inspiration from others, but ultimately, be sure to customise your journaling to fit your work schedule, goals and priorities.  ✍ 

Become aware of your anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that requires a more targeted approach than simply choosing not to worry about a situation. When you’re suffering with anxiety, you can feel very much out of control and unable to focus on anything else. 

A mindfulness approach is something that can help you overcome your symptoms, bringing you back to the present moment and slowing a racing mind. 

  • First step – acknowledge that you’re panicking and accept the presence of your anxious symptoms. 
  • Second step – focus on your breathing – anxiety attacks don’t last forever, so slowing your breathing and riding it out can help to calm the body down from its ‘fight or flight’ response or even hyperventilating. 

Top Tip: Consider the ways you can ease the stress of anxiety when you’re at work, such as stepping out of the office for fresh air, taking a walk around the block or calling a friend or family member for a chat while you wait for the anxiety to pass. 🧘

Give yourself a break

Entrepreneurs are renowned for their tendency to obsess over their tasks and workload, never giving themselves time to switch off and focus on other areas of their lives. 

This level of dedication, while admirable, isn’t healthy and it can be detrimental to your health over time. The solution is to take regular breaks, both intermittently throughout the day but also throughout the year as well. Taking a true break from work means leaving the stressors behind and avoiding answering calls and checking emails for at least a few days, but ideally longer. 

Everyone needs a break from time to time, but especially if you’re managing numerous roles at once, as many high-performing business owners do. If burnout and anxiety are an issue for you, choosing to take your break at a dedicated centre which focuses on burnout programmes can help you recover with the support and help of professionals. 

With just 20 to 30 minutes spent in nature each day, ecotherapy (a type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature) helps towards improving your mental health and wellness. Choose a location that offers a mix of restorative activities, culture, scenic vistas and privacy to give yourself a chance to come back completely refreshed, reinspired and equipped with coping techniques.

Audit your values and beliefs

As your small business grows, it’s easy to become side-tracked and diverted from the overall vision you started with.

Holding on to beliefs or goals that no longer serve you, can cause unnecessary stress. You could be working yourself into a panic for something that isn’t aligned with your vision anymore. 

When entrepreneurial stress is becoming overwhelming, it can be helpful to take time to audit the values, beliefs and ambitions that you’re holding onto, giving yourself permission to let them go if they’re no longer beneficial. 

Maybe you’re carrying a belief that in order to be successful, you need to be working long hours and weekends. Or perhaps you’re still carrying all the burden and decision-making on your shoulders because of a long-held belief that that’s what it means to be an entrepreneur. 

Top Tip: Vision is everything as an entrepreneur – be honest about how you feel now and consider a different perspective that could relieve a lot of the unwarranted stress you’re causing yourself. Create a grading system that scores your values and goals, this will make the focus and priorities for your business much clearer. It will help cut the noise and inform where to position your business to better align with your long-term goals. 🏆

Know your limits

No one can do it all, and thinking you’re the exception could be leading to more stress and unnecessary pressure than you realise. 

There’s no doubt that entrepreneurship is incredibly stressful, but remember that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint – there’s no need to go at full speed all the time. 

Knowing your limits and focusing on your key priorities, day by day, will ensure you still meet your goals but without the near-debilitating anxiety and mental overload that comes with trying to do it all. 

Early on in your entrepreneurship, you’re likely doing most of the work yourself, so focus on what you can do, what workflow management software can take off your plate and learn to delegate everything else

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, delegation could be required to help relieve stress and anxiety from your day-to-day:

  • Is this a recurring task? 
  • Is this a task that someone else has a skill set in/capable of doing?
  • Would delegating this task help a member of your team gain more experience in a certain area?
  • Is someone else better suited to the task?
  • Can you effectively communicate the expectations, goals and timeframe for the task?

Delegation may mean hiring someone to help you within the team or it might mean making use of third parties to take tasks off your to-do list. However you choose to do it, appreciate what your limits are and don’t be tempted to try to exceed them, as this will have an adverse effect on your stress and anxiety. 

Top Tip: Avoid multitasking in your day-to-day, our brains aren’t built for it. Instead aim to achieve micro-actions throughout the day and build a single-task mode of working. You’ll find that you’re more engaged, mindful of the work you’re doing and far more effective at clearing that (seemingly) never-ending to-do list. 🤹‍♀️  

Wrapping up 

Whether you’re in the early stages of entrepreneurship or you’re already dealing with the highs and lows of running a business, managing your mental health is essential to avoid bigger problems in the future. 

Stress and anxiety not only make it tough to do your job well, but they can also impact other areas of your life and even affect your physical health over time too. 

Finding ways to slow down, relax and unwind will help you in the long run and, ultimately, make you more efficient and productive in your job too. 

Photo by Mikhail Nilov, published on Pexels

Sophie Bishop

Sophie Bishop

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