How do you cope with stress?
Stress is common, but how entrepreneurs and business owners deal with it can vary; and sometimes it isn't coped with at all, until it is too late! Shulamit (Shula) Berlevtov is a social worker that works with busy women and businesswomen, offering support to help them manage and cope with stress. As Shula sees it, the problem is recognizing and dealing with stress before it gets too big.
Businesswomen think there is something wrong with them because they feel some little thing (stress) has done them in. The first thing is to recognize that it is normal to feel this way. Secondly, realize that the effect of stress is cumulative. Think of stress like the weight limit on an elevator. The weight can build and build on an elevator, but eventually, if you surpass the weight limit, the elevator is going to break. You are the elevator and stress is the people – too much stress and you will break!
The irony is if you are in the elevator, you can’t see what is happening because everything that is happening is outside of the elevator – the cables start to fray, etc. Then when everything breaks you find yourself free falling and you don’t understand why you’re broken.
This is how stress works: it builds and builds, and unless you are paying attention it breaks you. If you don’t see stress coming you should be looking for signs, such as getting a short fuse or feeling constant exhaustion. Stress affects all bodily functions: mental health, emotional health, your respiratory system, your muscular skeletal system (body tension), digestion, heartburn, etc. Stress affects the whole body.
Instead of living with the heartburn, etc. you should do something about it. Treat it like the “check engine” light in your car. You will be tempted to deal it later, but eventually that light could mean a larger problem.
So, what can we do in the moment?
As a businessperson, find a group or person who will put stress management on your regular agenda. Whether that is a mastermind group or a business coach – put stress management on your accountability list. Make a point of paying attention to the signals your body is giving you and then engage in stress reduction: discharge, soothe and nourish.
How to cope with stress
To discharge is to release the built up energy in the body, which means moving. It does not necessarily mean working out, but just moving somehow. Identify your practice i.e. taking a walk, dancing to music, etc. You need to bring your awareness to this movement – don’t bring your stress with you.
Bring your attention inward and say to yourself that this is your stress reduction practice. If it’s a chore to do it will become stressful and will not be good for you. Make sure the movement is pleasurable for you.
Soothing tells the nervous system that it doesn’t have to worry; and that it can relax. However you can’t just tell yourself to relax, your body responds to experience i.e., a hot bath or other calm, comfortable, soothing activity that will calm stress. This soothing activity is different for everyone. It is something that will make you say, “ahhhh.” And again you have to take the time to soothe yourself and find your calm. Commit to soothing your stress.
Nourish has to do with feeding the nervous system the experiences it needs to thrive, such as joy, fun, inspiration, etc. For some people this means going to church, singing, playing with kids, reading a book or going to a good comedy show. Anything that makes you come out feeling enlivened.
Find what works for you – you know what makes you feel good and you know what makes you feel that you’ve let steam off. If you don’t know, just bring an awareness to your feelings and you will quickly learn what your ideal stress reduction practice.
Stress is a part of being an entrepreneur (and a person!) but if you find the right techniques to release the stress the build up won't be such a problem. Leave a comment and let me know how you will discharge, soothe and nourish this week!
Resources & Links
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