In a survey by the American Psychology Association, the report showed that in 2015, overall stress levels increased slightly, with greater percentages of adults reporting extreme levels of stress than in 2014.
Surprisingly the generation that reported the highest levels were the Millennials, with Gen Xers a close second, and the main sources reported were money and work. With many entrepreneurs falling into these generation ranges, they're going to have to learn how to manage stress levels to maintain a healthy life.
Dr. Indra Cidambi, Medical Director at the Center for Network Therapy, said that when a person is under stress, the body begins to release a larger than normal quantity of fight-or-flight chemicals such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline.
“These trigger a higher heart rate, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating, and alertness, which, can help protect ourselves in dangerous situations. It helps us focus our attention and gives us a rush of energy that helps us quickly respond to the dangerous situation. So not all stress is bad; it only gets to be bad when it is triggered often and in inappropriate situations. Unhealthy stress levels suppress the immune, digestive, reproductive and sleep systems, which could eventually lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health and substance use disorders,” Cidambi said.
Building a good stress management strategy starts with building a good support system, a positive approach to situations, and learning coping strategies to mitigate and manage these reactions properly and effectively. Cidambi suggests these seven strategies to help you manage stress:
Take Care of Your Body
You have one life and one body. Taking care of it can help you deal with everything from hectic schedules to poor sleep cycles.
“Entrepreneurs, due to their enormous drive to accomplish something, forget that the most important person in their life is themselves! You need to take time to do things that are good for your body. Eat healthy so that the body receives the nutrition it needs, exercise regularly to stay in good physical shape and sleep 7-8 hours a day. This will provide the energy to face the challenges the next day,” Cidambi said.
Realize the Source
If you have an overachieving, high-strung, high-energy or intense personality, that alone can generate stress. Remember, managing the energy starts with you.
“Realize that most of the stress we experience is self-generated. Identify the source of your stress and become aware as to how it is affecting you. Things may not turn out as badly as we imagine. Most entrepreneurs wear many hats and expect to achieve perfection in everything they do. Learn to accept some slippage,” Cidambi said.
Find the Balance
Work-life balance is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but when it gets out of whack, your stress is going to start taking over.
“When we are experiencing acute stress, the word balance seems meaningless. However, it is important to identify the difference between positive and negative stress. The amount of stress you can handle is positive stress – the type that you can usually you can do something about, it is important to identify the difference,” Cidambi said.
Strive for Control
Without a plan or a pathway, it's easy to feel out of control at work and can add stress to our life.
“The loss of control (caused by external stimuli) is one of the biggest stressors. Identify and prioritize three issues or problems you can address and work on them. Once you accomplish these, identify three more and work on them. It will keep you from feeling overwhelmed,” Cidambi said.
Talk to a Friend
Sometimes letting it all out can help you deal with the stress. Whether it be a friend, family member or professional, talking it out can be healthy.
“People like to let other people know they are doing well but not when they are not doing so well. Wrong strategy! You want a core network of people you trust and can rely on for support in bad times. These are people you can share your problems with and expect genuine empathy and honest advice. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved!” Cidambi said.
Exercise is Key
Doctors have been saying it for years, exercise and a good diet offer more stress relief than other techniques.
“Entrepreneurs and small business owners need to relax or learn to relax! If you find that you are unable to relax, you need to find activities, like yoga, meditation or hobbies that will help you relax. A chronic inability to relax makes you vulnerable to becoming dependent on alcohol or drugs,” Cidambi said.
Sometimes You Have to Say No
It's easy to jump in and help people around your office or in life, but if your stress levels are getting to high from helping everyone else, you might want to consider dialing it back and saying no.
“Entrepreneurs pride themselves on solving problems and accept challenges that they may realistically not have the time or bandwidth to solve. This leads to unrealistic expectations and unwanted stress. Learn to say “No,” at the outset, as you do not have to accept every challenge thrown at you,” Cidambi said.
Read more about managing stress here on Tech.Co