Unexpected setbacks are part of life. As an entrepreneur, the ability to manage that stress at work and roll with the punches will determine if you have what it takes to be successful. That means it is crucial for you to let go of the daily stressors you cannot control.
How to manage stress at work.
Since stress management can make all the difference to an entrepreneur’s outlook, productivity and even the future success of their business, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council how they let go of stress. Which tip do you think would work best for you?
1. Pick your battles.
Setbacks are inevitable. The more you keep scaling, the more frequent they get. Instead of stressing over challenges that have a limited impact in the grand scheme of things, focus on the initiatives that will contribute to your company’s success in the long run. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes as well—you may in fact receive some bonus points for openly admitting that you aren’t perfect.
2. Focus on the positives to manage stress at work.
There are always good and bad things happening in a business. If you only focus on the bad things and never celebrate successes, it will give you a skewed outlook on the business and could cause you to over-focus on small details. We might think we have control, but in reality, there is very little in our control on this planet. The Earth spins around the sun. Everything else is optional.
3. Yell in private.
Stress sucks. Running a business is hard. And sometimes you’re put into a terrible position (yes, maybe of your own making). The worst thing you can do is hide your frustration. Take time—10 minutes, two days, whatever—to really own the stress. Find a private place and yell, letting your physical self be in tune with your emotions. Then breathe and figure out what you’re going to do next.
4. Review what happened.
I like to review what happened in those situations to see what I learned from it and what I might do differently in the future. Learning from it helps me move on.
5. Laugh it off.
There is only so much we can control, so why sweat the stuff we can’t? When you have a setback, laugh it off. Do what you need to do to get through it, but do not let it break you down mentally. Odds are, if you look at your situation in the grand scheme of things, this setback will be nothing but a blip on the road to where you are going.
6. Write it down to manage your stress at work.
Sometimes worries can get trapped in our heads, and constantly thinking about them is stressful. Writing will help you get them out of your head. Allow yourself to write down your worries in a worry notebook when they come to your mind, but limit yourself to only a couple minutes of writing time, and then move on.
7. Think about the worst-case scenario.
It can be really easy to find yourself at a low point if a few things don’t go your way. The easiest way to stay calm is to get comfortable with the idea of the worst-case scenario. So, what’s the worst that could happen? You may have to shut down your business and start over. Thinking about this often, you will soon realize what the important things are in your life, like your health and family.
8. Look at it as an opportunity.
Every single time I have experienced a so-called “setback,” it has really been an opportunity in disguise. Sure, the road got a little bit bumpy at times. But because I focused on making whatever shifts, changes or upgrades were needed to avoid the same issue in the future, I was able to turn every single one into a huge growth opportunity that made my life exponentially better going forward.
9. See the big picture.
Focus on the things you can control because wasting time on things you can’t will exhaust you. Decide which aspects of the problem you have control over and devise a clear plan for your next step, considering what resources you have available to fix it. Focusing on what you can change will make you feel empowered when approaching the situation, giving you the confidence you need to overcome the problem.
10. Manage expectations.
Stress is typically caused by misaligned expectations. We were expecting one outcome in our minds, but something completely different occurred in reality. If we let go of expectations in our minds, then we will experience less stress, especially when it’s not within our control.
11. Respond rather than react.
When dealing with setbacks, it’s important to maintain perspective. I remind myself to respond rather than react to the issue at hand, because the way I respond is 100% within my control. By looking at a problem rationally, I can develop ideas on how to overcome or move forward from here. Perhaps something did not go the way I planned—that simply means that I need to find another way.
12. Create a plan to manage stress at work.
To operate most efficiently, you need to take care of yourself by taking breaks and vacations, exercising, getting enough rest and maintaining a balanced diet. Taking care of yourself will help you focus on what you can and can’t control. Also, remove unhealthy coping skills, like complaining, and remind yourself to meet friends or do a favorite activity when your stress levels are high.
13. Have faith.
As an entrepreneur with bipolar and generalized anxiety disorder, I know all about stress and setbacks. My strategy is simple but hard: cast my cares upon God. He has broad shoulders. It may not be popular to say, but I trust in him. We take care of our physical selves with diet, sleep and exercise, but we also need to take care of our spiritual selves with faith, prayer and fellowship.
14. Meditate to let go of stress, then move on.
Meditation has become part of my daily routine. It allows me to acknowledge all of the stressors that come with being a CEO, while keeping myself sane and healthy. Taking that time each day to breathe and note stressful points in my day allows me to move forward with a clear head and motivated mindset to get the job done.
This article was published in April 2019 and has been updated. Photo by Prostock-studio/Shutterstock