More and more people, fed up with a boss who is always dissatisfied, angry co-workers and doing everything „yesterday”, decide to start their own business, hoping that in this way they will slow down, catch their breath and finally start doing what they like. Undoubtedly, running a business is associated with a number of benefits and for many people it turns out to be a bull’s eye. Running your own business requires perseverance, overcoming many difficulties and a lot of competition. You should expect that stress in business will accompany us at every step, so it is better to have full control over it from the beginning. However, to make it possible, it is worth taking a closer look at this phenomenon.
Stress in business – how does it look like?
At first, it is worth noting that stress is a normal reaction of the body. The fact that someone experiences associated stress is not unusual. In short, it is a psychological discomfort felt by a person, appearing as a result of the occurrence of so-called stressors in the environment. This state is most often experienced when there is a discrepancy between the demands placed on us and the possibilities that give us a chance to cope with them.
However, it is not such a simple phenomenon, which can be closed in a short definition, because it is often said to have two faces. Stress in business can appear in two forms:
- Distress – is negative stress that causes intense discomfort, limits mental performance, impairs daily functioning, and poses serious health risks,
- Eustress – is the second, better side of stress. It fulfills many important functions in the human body, brings certain benefits, for example, mobilizes to action before performing an important task. This kind of stress manifests itself in excitement, actor’s stage fright and, above all, brings satisfaction – it is the one that makes you happy after a busy day, when you feel that the investment of energy has brought the expected results.
Stressors – what are they?
Generally speaking, stressors are all situations, stimuli that trigger a nervous reaction. Such a reaction is very individual – different people may interpret the same event in different ways – in some people it may cause a very strong, paralyzing stress reaction, while others may remain indifferent to it.
It is very important to be able to recognize stressors and to carefully observe the body’s reaction to them. With adequate knowledge of yourself, it becomes possible to control your body’s response to various events and maintain optimal levels of arousal.
What can cause stress?
There are different categories of stressors, depending on what they relate to. In the context of a self-employed person, it is worth mentioning stressors related to quantitative work overload. This refers to situations in which there are too many duties to perform, or when there is too little time for basic tasks. Overload may also be of a qualitative nature, connected, for example, with the necessity to remain vigilant for a longer period of time, responsibility for financial as well as interpersonal matters, making unusually important decisions.
Running one’s own business can also involve the ambiguity of one’s job role. Previous full-time work meant that we had greater clarity of responsibilities and tasks to perform. Stress in business can be caused by lack of knowledge about how to manage your own business, the responsibilities associated with it, etc. Moreover, it is often the case that a person running their own business, caught up in the whirlwind of work and managing their own company, forgets or simply does not have time for the best antidote – rest.
What’s more, the situation can be exacerbated by stressors related to the entrepreneur’s private life. A small percentage of people are able to detach themselves at work from the difficulties they experience due to their family situation and vice versa. It is worth remembering that the problem is not only bringing work home, but also home to work.
The impact of stress on running a business
The effects of stress are global, so its effects are felt throughout the body. It can significantly alter the way a person feels, thinks and behaves. This is because in the past its task was to prepare a person to respond to a threat.
As mentioned above – the effects of stress can be both positive and negative. Positive effects are seen especially with the action of short-term, one-time stress, associated, for example, with the need to perform some task. Undoubtedly, the good sides of stress include:
- faster decision making,
- and thus, faster action,
- mobilization of the last resources of strength,
- protecting against excessive strain (as it causes fatigue and forces to take a break),
- driving the learning process.
Unfortunately, with prolonged stress, the human body becomes fatigued by the constant state of arousal and can result in very severe discomfort, felt on both physiological and psychological levels. Some of the negative effects of stress include:
- frequent headaches and dizziness, excessive sweating, weakened immunity, insomnia,
- severe anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, intolerance, explosiveness, low self-esteem, decreased motivation to act,
- decreased concentration, difficulty associating, distractibility, reduced speed and clarity of thought, dullness, wandering thoughts, decreased creativity,
- rapidity of reactions, abuse of medicines, alcohol, drugs, limitation of social contacts.
Positive or negative stress in business significantly affects the way an entrepreneur functions. Taking into account that stress is often accompanied by high responsibility for running one’s own company, the effects, especially of prolonged irritation, may lead to a serious mental, physical, and thus also economic crisis of a person running his own business.
Stress in business – at what level?
As the preceding discussion suggests, the quality of human performance is largely determined by the level of stress experienced. Psychologists have proven that everyone has their own optimal level of arousal, at which they function best. This means that if the stress level is too low, the effectiveness of work is also low, we often feel tired, bored, convinced that nothing makes sense. Similarly, too much stress negatively affects functioning, causing the effects mentioned above. It follows that stress in business is necessary, but not in excessive amounts, which could have a negative impact on a person’s mental and physical state.
It is important to realize that stress is not something external, uncontrollable. On the contrary – every person, with proper involvement, is able to regulate its perceived level, especially through attitude towards experienced events. Moreover, as was mentioned earlier, this phenomenon is natural and necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Most problems are not caused by stress itself, but by the way we react to it.
If stress in business overwhelms us, we should learn to control it, which can lead to a significant improvement in functioning, both at work and in personal life. The optimal level of arousal allows for physical relaxation along with a surge of energy, a sense of self-confidence, and ease in organizing tasks.
So how can we minimize the negative consequences while maximizing the positive effects of stress?
Ways to deal with stress
To be able to achieve optimal levels of stress and draw strength from it to fight daily adversities, it is necessary to manage it with various coping techniques. There are many ways – it’s just a matter of finding the right and most effective ones. Some of the most popular methods of coping with stress include:
- Actively removing stress, such as by removing the stressor or reducing its negative effects. For people who regain their composure when they feel they have everything under control, planning, organizing or considering how to deal with a problem, what steps to take, may be ideal.
- Switching off from alternative responsibilities- people who do not have such a good divisibility of attention, when a stressor acts, can focus only on the problem and its solution. A very good method is also the so-called positive reinterpretation of the event, and thus the development by seeing positive aspects in a particular experience.
- Ability to control physiological reaction to stress – by using proper breathing and relaxation techniques, physical exercises, but also contact with loved ones, you can learn to control your body’s reaction to stress. All this can prevent you from acting impulsively and making hasty decisions.
- Use of non-constructive methods – it is mainly about cutting off from the problem, waiting until the solution appears by itself or looking for relief in various types of stimulants. It should be remembered that such solutions do have an effect, but usually the problem comes back sooner or later and with redoubled force.
- Adaptogens – Adaptogens can safely and effectively reduce the effects of stress on the human body. Adaptogenic preparations will therefore be an ideal supportive agent for busy, stressed and overworked people. They will help maintain the body’s good mental condition and physical performance.
Controlling stress is not difficult, and the effects of such action certainly guarantee many benefits – especially in the case of people running their own business. Properly taming this „advisor” can make it possible to perform significantly more tasks with the same amount of energy and noticeably improve the way the body functions. Stress in business is not excluded, however it can be dealt with by using various anti-stress techniques, adaptogens and resting regularly.