While entrepreneurship is an exciting career path, it comes with a lot of stress and anxiety. Entrepreneurs face difficult decisions on a daily basis, and these choices can be exhausting and anxiety-provoking. In addition, entrepreneurs trying to secure funding often find themselves worrying about the impression they make on venture capitalists and other investors, even in informal meetings and conversations.
Even naturally laid-back people may struggle with stress as they launch their own company and find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities. It’s ideal to develop stress management techniques before you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, but even so, most people continue to refine their stress management skills over the course of their career. Some tips for managing stress and anxiety include:
1. Find support.
Especially in the beginning, entrepreneurship can be a lonely path. Entrepreneurs should find a community they can depend on for support when they need it. Some options include local entrepreneurs’ groups, industry conferences or professional organizations, or even a mentor. In most major cities, you’ll find regular events that entrepreneurs can use to build a network; search LinkedIn, Eventbrite, or Meetup for events and gatherings near you. While many of these events are aimed at building business connections, you can also use them for social purposes. After a stressful day, talking to someone who understands the struggles of entrepreneurship can be extremely cathartic. Mentors, likewise, can help you find solutions to stressful problems and provide reassurance when things feel hopeless.
2. Exercise regularly.
Most entrepreneurs work very long days, sometimes 12 hours or more. With these long days, personal care can fall by the wayside, and exercise is often the first thing to go. However, exercise can help you blow off steam, make you feel happier, and even boost your productivity—and of course, it’s necessary for optimal physical health. Try to create an exercise schedule and stick to it, even if that means going to the gym first thing in the morning. At the same time, you can incorporate exercise into your day if that works better for your schedule. For example, you can go for a walk at lunch or even complete some tasks while you’re on the treadmill. Even 10 minutes of physical activity, especially away from a computer, can ease stress and anxiety.
3. Pursue a hobby.
When you’re starting a business, it can seem like the company consumes your whole life. Often, entrepreneurs allow their companies to take up all of their time because they believe that’s what’s needed to succeed. However, it is also important to give your mind a break from time to time. Hobbies can provide a breath of fresh air during the week and allow you to enjoy other activities that interest you. Often, carving out a little bit of time for a hobby can increase your productivity when you return to the office. In addition, hobbies can give you a social outlet.
4. Journal daily.
You probably know that keeping your emotions bottled up increases stress. While keeping a journal may sound silly or childish, taking time to write down your feelings or just explore your anxieties can be extremely freeing. Many people, especially entrepreneurs, find journaling a great way to achieve greater clarity and self-awareness. In fact, research has shown that journaling is a great way to deal with negative emotions and release stress. Furthermore, journaling only takes a few minutes out of the day. Some people find it beneficial to write down their thoughts just before bed—putting their worries or even positive thoughts on paper (or on their tablet) helps them achieve a feeling of release and encourages better sleep. If you try journaling, try not to censor yourself as you write; stream-of-consciousness writing is often best for stress management.
5. Explore mindfulness.
While people may dismiss mindfulness as a trend, it can actually have significant benefits for entrepreneurs. Mindfulness is all about slowing down, being present in the moment, and observing your own thoughts without judgment. Often, mindfulness helps people feel more accepting of themselves, others, and the world around them. Simple breathing exercises or even meditation are great ways to quiet a mind going at full speed and return to work feeling refreshed after only a short break. Don’t underestimate the power of these tools for releasing stress and regaining a sense of purpose. Another way to explore mindfulness is through yoga, although this is more difficult to perform at the office.
6. Get sleep.
Too often, entrepreneurs let their sleep hygiene suffer as they work to build a company. Without adequate sleep, you will quickly feel overwhelmed—you may have more trouble thinking clearly and making decisions, and your emotions may get the better of you. Different people often need different things to sleep soundly, so it is important to figure out a routine that works for you. For many entrepreneurs, sleep hygiene involves creating some space between work and sleep. If you work until bedtime, you’ll probably have trouble relaxing and falling asleep. Ideally, give yourself time to unwind after a long day so that you can actually fall asleep once you retire for the night. If you’re really struggling with sleep, you may want to see a sleep therapist, who can provide more specific advice to improve your sleep quality.