How to clear your mind in times of stress

Working as your own boss, creating the perfect schedule, following a dream of your own; what could possibly go wrong? While the idea of entrepreneurship looks fantastic on paper, the freedom of self-starting is often accompanied by significant stressors. While all jobs come with their own anxiety-provoking moments, the high stakes of creating your own business can have debilitating effects. In fact, studies have shown that thirty percent of entrepreneurs face depression or chronic anxiety, a higher figure than those with traditional nine-to-five careers.

Stress can appear in many forms, hiding behind an unbearable headache or an irritable mood. So what do you do when you feel it taking over? While it’s vital to pay attention to your mental health, stress doesn’t need to stop you from pursuing your passion. Rather than a blaring red flag, it can serve as a stop sign, gently reminding you to slow down and check in with yourself. Here are simple steps you can take to clear your head in times of work-related turbulence on the road to success.

You do you

Stress doesn’t always boil over in the form of Harrison Ford in Extraordinary Measures, throwing papers and screaming in anguish. Often it can manifest in a subdued mood or decreased interest in anything non-work related. With no set hours to structure your day, it can be easy to fall into a work-sleep-eat routine. But, it’s crucial to leave room for pleasure in all that business or you risk buying yourself a one-way ticket to burnout.

Whether it’s going on a neighborhood jog, hitting an early morning yoga class or picking up that Nikon that’s been collecting dust on the shelf, schedule time each day to do something entirely for you. Not only will this help you to decompress, but it could ultimately help your business. A study at San Francisco State University found that people with regular hobbies demonstrated higher capability when it came to brainstorming creative solutions to work-related problems.

Under pressure

Despite the blood, sweat and tears poured into a new business, after all is said and done, only two percent of startups succeed. With that number dangling above your head, it may be difficult to silence the constant mental to-do list (or lists, more realistically). For this reason, the notion of mindfulness is beginning to pop up frequently in the corporate world. You don’t need to be a neurosurgeon to know that mindfulness tremendously benefits the brain, reducing cortisol levels and therefore stress. But how does one attain this enlightened state?

No need to find a Bodhi tree to meditate under. You can get some peace of mind from the comfort of your office. Taking five minutes a day to focus on your breathing can lead to increased hopefulness and motivation. And with the new intersection of meditation and technology, tranquility has never been more accessible. Headspace, Calm and Stop and Think are all free apps that will walk you through the often intimidating process. Get some namaste in your day.

A little help from my friends

Is your neck starting to hurt from wearing all those hats? In the early stages of business development, you will likely be playing many roles, often simultaneously. Why shoulder such a heavy burden when you have colleagues to lighten the load? Delegation may seem like an effortless task, but studies have shown that one in three managers don’t delegate proportionally. Freeing yourself from some responsibilities will prevent you from spreading yourself too thin, allowing you to funnel your energy into the most crucial aspects of your business.

It’s perfectly normal to have trouble letting someone else take the reins, which is why a capable and trustworthy team is a necessity. The more you know your employees' strengths and weaknesses, the more effectively you can distribute tasks and feel confident in their abilities. While you’re at it, exploring your own talents and blind spots will gift you with a more realistic view of your professional capacity.

Invest in your team and invest in yourself - it may make all the difference.

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