Most of us have likely heard the phrase “fight or flight”, also known as acute stress response. The phrase was coined by psychologist Walter Bradford Cannon in the early part of the 20th century to describe a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

While it’s true that most people in civilized society rarely face actual life-threatening danger on a regular basis, the acute stress that running a business can produce can have very real consequences on your life and overall health.

Unfortunately, stress is just a reality of running a business. In our blog post One Foot in Front of the Other, we addressed, in part, how the pressure of owning and running a business can affect motivation. In this article, we look at some ways to reduce daily stress so you can become more productive, happier, and healthier overall.

Recognize Your Triggers

Sometimes the best way to deal with stressful situations is to avoid the circumstances that most often create them in the first place. Learn to recognize these triggers, then work on finding ways to either avoid them altogether whenever possible or develop some coping techniques.

For example, maybe your business is always disorganized. Or you’re always running behind schedule. Maybe you regularly interact with someone who pushes all of your buttons. Once you identify what actually causes you unnecessary stress, consider how you can best deal with it, implement a system or method to address it, give it a few months, and reevaluate. If it’s not working, try something else for a period of time.

As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Keep trying new approaches until you find one that works for you.

Delegate and Outsource

Last week’s guest blog by Connor Gillivan of talked about outsourcing and how it can upscale your business faster. Outsourcing and even just delegating small tasks within your organization can often relieve a tremendous burden from your shoulders. Yes, you built your business from the ground up and you like things to run a certain way. That doesn’t mean you have to become a martyr to it!

Can you afford to hire help? Outsource things you no longer have time to commit to, like your business blog or social media presence? If so, do it and take some things off your plate so you can continue to focus on the areas that your input is crucial to.

If you find that you’re one of those business owners who thrive on doing everything, great! But if you’re like most people, as the business grows over time, you’ll find yourself in a position where you’re just no longer able to wear every hat and still be successful and productive. Burnout is real, and if you’re spending a lot of time on tasks that could easily be handled by others, you’re not doing yourself or your business any favors.

Get Physical

Sometimes the best way to tackle stress is to work it out. Literally. So get to the gym. Do yoga. Go for a run. Beat the hell out of a punching bag. There are times when nothing except sheer physical exertion will chase away the stress and anxiety you’re feeling. You’ll not only feel better mentally and emotionally, you’ll be improving your physical health as well!

Follow Your Bliss

Aside from the dream of owning and operating your own business, what other passions do you have? Have you always wanted to write the next great American novel in your spare time? Become a painter? Run your first full marathon? Whatever it is that you secretly wish you had time for, make the time.

You may think that every minute of every day needs to be focused on the business, but it will still be there when you get back. Put aside a few hours a week to dedicate yourself to something fun that inspires you.

A less stressed you is a happier, more productive you. In the same way that parents who occasionally (or even regularly) take time for themselves can be better parents to their kids, you can become a better business owner by focusing on your own needs.

Sticking To It

When all is said and done, it’s important to remember that you alone are in control of how you handle the stresses in your life. There will always be some degree of stress for everyone, both internally and externally, especially in business. But how we recognize and address it is what makes all the difference. It isn’t always easy, but finding effective and consistent methods to deal with stress head-on can help keep you mentally sharper, emotionally resilient, and ultimately, more successful!