The first thing to say about stress is that it’s no respecter of social class or job description – it’s something that can affect pretty much anyone, and for a multitude of reasons including life upheavals, debt, relationship problems, bereavement – and many other things besides.
In fact, if recent figures are anything to go by, the news headlines that characterise the prevalence of stress as ‘epidemic’ may not actually be that far off the mark:
- In England, 2012 saw a rise of 7% in hospital admissions for stress year-on year, with the numbers being admitted a full 47% up on 2008
- The mental health charity Mind estimates that 1 in 6 workers is currently dealing with a mental health issue such as stress, anxiety or depression.
Taking these factors into account, it becomes very clear that stress is something that increasingly needs to be addressed in the workplace.
But if you’re an entrepreneur or own a startup, there are likely to be some obvious points of difference between your organisation and a more typical set up. For one thing, your company is unlikely to be of the dimensions (yet, anyway!) where you have full-time HR staff. So, much of the stress management and workplace wellbeing may well be cultural rather than existing as a written policy document.
The challenges of entrepreneurship and workplace wellbeing
The number of self-employed businesses is on the rise. And there are in fact 10% more people in self-employment now then there were a mere 5 years ago. There’s unlikely to be a single reason for this rise, and some of the people in self-employment may have offered services freelance having been made redundant.
But there is undoubtedly a large number of entrepreneurs within the ranks of the self-employed, too. And the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and startup owners in terms of stress management include the following:
- Uncharted territory. If you’re a new business, you are moving forward, breaking down barriers and – hopefully – gaining new ground. Who wouldn’t feel a healthy apprehension about being in this situation?
- Finding time to take time out. Figures often indicate that self-employed people take fewer days off on holiday, and less time off sick too. But recharging the batteries means more energy to put into business, so it’s important to have downtime. It’s also important to look into self-employed or group medical insurance in order
- The vicissitudes of business. If you’re an entrepreneur or the owner of a startup, then part of your role is to be at the helm. And this means that if there are storms ahead, you’ll be the first to see them. By the same token, when the sun is shining you’ll also be the first to feel the warmth.
Stress management for entrepreneurs
Being an entrepreneur means not following anyone else’s script, it means being your own person and doing your own thing. And while these are all admirable (and enviable) qualities, it pays to help ensure that you’re energised and working to the best of your abilities at all times during the working day.
Stress management is partly about identifying your stress triggers. Even just being aware of what these are can be a huge help, as you can then start to alter your response to them. Other stress busters include taking exercise and avoiding coping habits such as overeating.
One stress busting technique that will surely be of interest to most startup people and entrepreneurs is this – challenging yourself. According to occupational health expert Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University:
By constantly challenging yourself you’re being proactive and taking charge of your life.
Which is what entrepreneurs and startup owners do all the time, isn’t it?
Other things to consider:
- You’re not alone. There are other people out there at the cutting edge in business who will also be apt to experience the same highs and lows. Read up on the experiences of others and see what insights you can gain as well as tips and wisdom from other entrepreneurs.
- Techniques such as mindfulness meditation are growing in popularity and are believed to have positive physical effects on the brain as well as stress-reducing properties.
- A proactive approach to stress can help to increase productivity as well as overall wellbeing.
- Why start-ups should strive to turn innovation into investment (thestartupmag.com)
- How To Get Paid (thestartupmag.com)
- 6 Ways to Get Your Business Through the Tough Economy (thestartupmag.com)