There’s one thing all entrepreneurs and business owners are guaranteed to experience: stress. Stress in business is unavoidable. Things can change on a dime; vendor prices can rise and squeeze your margins, new competition can siphon off customers, a valued employee may leave, or a pandemic brings the world to a halt. Fortunately, most owners have diverse skillsets to help achieve their goals; the ability to sell, manage employees, multi-task, delegate, and motivation even in adversity. Whether stress is within your control or out of it, there are ways to minimize its effects. 

Stay active

Entrepreneurs aren’t a lazy bunch; they rise early, work long hours, take fewer vacations, and fight through sickness to keep the gears of production moving. When you’re being pulled in 20 different directions at once, though, you better have strong limbs. Regular exercise helps keep your energy level up. Think of your body as an asset that yields better results based on how well you treat it. The best way to keep them both at peak performance is to feed them well and keep them active. Regular exercise helps to refocus the mind and keep the body energized. What kind of activity you do is less important than the action itself. Physical movement helps melt away unwanted stress and improve your mood. Next time you’re feeling agitated or have a critical decision to ponder, take some time to disconnect and go for a walk. You’ll likely find the answer you need.

Stay organized

Structure and organization are imperative for a business to stay efficient. As a business owner, you lay out the company vision and make strategic decisions to achieve it. Some of those decisions will feel like a heavy burden and can lead to indecision or overanalyzing a situation, ultimately turning into stress. A good habit is to prioritize tasks that are most important (and sometimes the most arduous) at the top. Chances are, when you start moving the big rocks out of the way, the smaller ones tend to roll away much quicker. Try aligning task lists with meeting company goals that will have the most impact in a defined period. Knock those out, and the rest tends to fall into place. 

Strike a Balance

Leaving work at the office is a luxury most entrepreneurs never experience. Working nights, weekends, and being (or feeling) on call regardless of the circumstances is a cross born by an owner. It’s hard to unplug entirely because when the line between personal and professional lives is blurred. Having your brain on overdrive isn’t a good long-term strategy for the business or your health. 

It is vitally important to find separation and to be “present” during these times. When you’re with family, be with your family. Don’t be afraid to turn your cell phone off for an hour or two. Meet with friends, go on vacation, check things off your bucket list that is not business-related. Remain positive and stay determined to have not just professional growth but personal growth. 

Another way to lower your stress level is to find refuge in something larger than yourself in the form of charity, volunteering, or faith-based activities that are meaningful to you. Often the best reminder of how far we’ve progressed in life comes through the act of helping others.

Trust your staff

Not being involved in most business decisions is easier said than done for many small business owners. Finding the trusted staff you’re comfortable delegating to can sometimes take years, but ultimately it has to be done. Shifting additional responsibilities onto employees helps alleviate stress and has the added benefit of encouraging them to step up and take more ownership in their roles with the organization. Fostering open communication with employees and being generous with praise is also crucial, so employees know their work is valued. 

Celebrate achievements

It’s essential to stop and celebrate accomplishments no matter how minor you may feel they are. Momentum is a powerful force; the more you feed it, the more powerful it becomes. Keep the positivity flowing in the right direction. Accept that mistakes happen and move past them quickly. Stress is harder to find when you’re not looking for it, so don’t drag out issues by overanalyzing them. Done is always better than perfect, and if it’s one thing business owners know how to do, it’s getting things done. 

Stress is manageable. Remember to make time for yourself and, when you do, fully detach from work. Being a workaholic is not the badge of honor some think it is. Pushing yourself past your limits while ignoring other aspects of your life will catch up to you. Finding balance can be challenging at first, so find solace in your loved ones and whatever it is that gives you the greatest joy. It’s lonely at the top, but there’s probably nowhere else you’d rather be. So to stay there, make sure you put yourself first; your business will thank you.