As a small business owner, it is likely that you have to juggle many different responsibilities and demands, from maintaining sales and organizing your business finances to retaining clients and managing staff. As a result, you undoubtedly have to deal with your fair share of stress.
By Steve Clarke
If you are looking for ways to stop stress from having serious impact on your health and well-being, there are exercises that you can introduce into your working day to help you manage your stress levels and prevent burnout. In this article, you can find five of these techniques, many of which you can do at your desk.
Emotional freedom technique (EFT)
EFT is a technique that is easy to learn and can be done quickly when you’re stressed. It acts as a needleless form of acupuncture, where you tap energy points on your body as you focus on a stressful thought, feeling or image to help you calm down.
Before you start, think of the phrase or image that encapsulates your stress. Then tap on a specific energy point three to seven times while repeating the phrase or focusing on the image. Energy points to tap include the eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, the chin, collar bone, under the arm and on the top of the head. As you repeat the tapping, you should start to feel your stress levels reduce.
Once you feel calmer, focus on an uplifting phrase and repeat the tapping exercise, as this can then help you to feel re-energized and motivated for the rest of the working day.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
Another stress-busting technique you can use at your desk is PMR, where you tense and release muscle groups in order to remove tension that you are holding in your body.
With PMR, you typically start with the muscles in your forehead and work down to your feet, or vice versa. Different muscle groups to work through include your forehead, jaw, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, buttocks, legs and feet.
During the exercise, you should spend a few minutes at the start breathing slowly and deeply. Then, you tense and hold each muscle group for 15 seconds, and slowly release the tension for 30 seconds as you exhale. Once you have worked a muscle group, you should spend more time concentrating on your breathing before you move onto another so you can focus on your relaxed state.
Guided meditation apps
Having a guided meditation app that you use for a few minutes a day can give you the opportunity to pause and rest, allowing you to come back to your work in a more productive frame of mind.
When we are stressed, our ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered. This can cause our blood pressure and pulse to rise, blood flow to increase and breathing to quicken. Meditation can help to slow these responses right down. It gives you an opportunity to step back, observe your thoughts and feelings, and reassess your response to stress triggers, so that you don’t become immersed in it or let it drive how you go onto behave.
Deep breathing can also be taught through some meditation apps. When you are stressed, your breathing quickens, and becomes shallow. This exercise can help you to return to a normal breathing rate and reduce your anxiety and stress.
When you start, really focus on breathing with your abdomen, feeling the rise and fall here rather than in your chest. As you breathe in for five to eight second, imagine filling your lungs from the bottom to the top, then hold for five to eight seconds. As you gently exhale for the same amount of time, imagine emptying your lungs right to the bottom.
You should repeat this several times until you start to feel your stress levels reduce.
Leave your desk from time-to-time
While it can be easy to spend all day at your desk, regularly taking a few minutes away can help to stop stress from building up. If you can, try to get outside and once outdoors, focus on what you can see, hear, smell and feel rather than thinking about what is causing you to feel stressed.
This can help to clear your mind so that you can sit back down at your desk re-energized.
Maintaining lower stress levels
Try and integrate some of these techniques into your day-to-day routine to stop your stress levels from becoming overwhelming. By giving yourself a few minutes to relax, you will soon find that you are more productive and begin to enjoy working on your small business a lot more.
If your stress continues regardless of techniques you introduce, think about what you can change in your daily life. Could you set yourself more reasonable deadlines, reduce your weekly hours or recruit someone to support you? You may also want to think about accessing private and confidential therapies to help you learn more ways to manage your stress levels.
Whatever you do, it is important that you take care of your health. Your business may demand a lot of your time and energy, but managing your stress levels can help to ensure that you still have a good quality of life, where you enjoy your time both at work and away from your business.
Steve Clarke is an experienced psychotherapist with several years’ experience with addiction, mood disorders, and eating disorders. He also manages the clinical team at Priory Group’s Life Works, including a team of therapists, nurses, and healthcare assistants, to deliver a full program of care.