A couple years ago things seemed kind of slow in the freelance writing world and I found myself feeling rather anxious about whether I’d have enough work to meet my business and income-related goals for the year. Then, work picked up (like it always does) and I found myself worrying and stressing about getting everything done by their deadlines and keeping all of my clients happy. Sound familiar?
Although I do much better with this today, there’s no denying that owning and running your own small business comes with a lot of anxiety and tension—from quite a few different directions. There’s clients to please, colleagues to consider, marketing to do, bills to pay, invoices to send, and on and on and on. No wonder so many business professionals suffer with anxiety-related issues!
In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders take the top slot when it comes to issues related to the mind, affecting roughly 40 million adults in the U.S. alone. Furthermore, costs associated with anxiety are somewhere around $42 billion annually, with more than half of them resulting from trying to deal with the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, dizziness, and more.
So, what can you do to cope when your small business has you feeling anxious?
According to Calm Clinic, when anxiety rises in your body, the way you breathe changes. It becomes faster and more shallow thanks to your flight or fight response, making you feel worse because you’re releasing too much carbon dioxide too quickly.
The goal then is to change the way you are breathing so your breaths are slower (not necessarily deeper) and more mindful. To do this, they recommend breathing in to a count of 5, hold for a count of 2, and then breathe out to a count of 6 to slow the pace at which you’re releasing carbon dioxide.
It also helps to regularly engage in activities that focus on healthy breathing techniques. Two to consider are meditation and yoga, as both incorporate mindful breathing into their practices.
Stay In the Present
If you’re like I used to be, a lot of your anxiety comes from thinking about what lies ahead. It’s the dreaded “What ifs?”
What if I don’t have enough customers or clients to sustain my business and have to close my doors for good? Or, what if I have too many customers flocking to my door all at once and I can’t take care of all of them? What if my equipment breaks down or my star employee quits? What if my lease isn’t renewed? What if, what if, what if?
The good news is that most of the things we worry about never come to pass. The bad news is that we tend to waste a lot of time and energy on them regardless.
To break out of this way of thinking, stay in the present and think about the here and now. Do what you need to do to get you through today. It’s okay to look into the future too, just do it objectively so it doesn’t give you chest pains or sweaty palms.
Do What You Can Do
Part of effectively dealing with anxiety involves realizing when you can do things to relieve the negative emotions you’re experiencing and when you just need to let them go. For instance, if you’re feeling anxious about whether we’ll experience World War III, well, there’s not much you can do about that personally, so you need to find a way to move past it. However, if you’re experiencing anxiety over an upcoming building inspection, there are some things you can do to make it go more smoothly, so you’re better off tending to them so they are no longer a concern.
This is super important because time spent on issues you have absolutely no control over won’t help you, whereas time spent actually resolving the things that are contributing to your stress and tension can. First this requires recognizing the difference, which you can do quite easily by simply asking yourself, “What can I do to change the circumstances that are on my mind?”
If your answer is “nothing,” then you need to find a way to make peace with it and move on. On the other hand, if there are things you can do or change, then do them so you feel more in control.
Take Time to Relax
Another key component of anxiety release is regularly taking the time to decompress. If you don’t, that’s when your body will begin to show signs physically, potentially sending you to the doctor or emergency room because your chest hurts, your body aches, you feel dizzy, or you simply just don’t feel as good as you know you could.
If you’re not quite sure how to relax, The Daily Mind offers 100 different options to consider. These include going for a walk, calling an old friend, getting a massage, writing a to-do list, and 96 additional options that all have a way of soothing you on both physical and mental levels.
Anxiety is no fun to contend with, that’s for sure—especially when it comes to business. So, do these things and it will likely help. And if you have any other ideas, add them below. Help a fellow small business owner out, would ya?
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