In the middle of the day, it’s easy to write your stress off as a temporary annoyance; you face an unexpected problem, resolve the problem, and move on to something else. But stress is more than just an annoyance; it accumulates, and in high amounts, it can take a physical toll on the body.
With the amount of stress that entrepreneurs deal with, that physical toll can be enormous. You’re running an organization that has a massive impact on your salary and profit, you’re working long hours and under harsh conditions, and you’re the one responsible for making all the decisions.
So what effects can all these stressful circumstances have, and how can you prevent those consequences from unfolding?
The Effects of Entrepreneurial Stress
These are some of the harshest and most noticeable effects of entrepreneurial stress:
- Sleep patterns. One of the biggest effects of stress is interference with your normal sleeping patterns. Stress can cause you to snore and can make any existing sleep disorders worse than they already are. This is especially problematic because a chronic lack of sleep will make any other problems associated with stress even worse.
- It’s no secret that being stressed out will put you in a bad mood, but when the stress is prolonged, the emotional effects become longer-lasting and more severe. In extreme cases, you might become a completely different person.
- Responding to stress takes energy, and you only have so much energy to give. Under periods of intense stress, you’ll find yourself feeling tired and unenergetic, and therefore unable to deal with the demands of entrepreneurship.
- While under stress and low on sleep, you’ll notice your productivity slowly declining. You won’t be able to accomplish as much in an hour as you used to, and you’ll end up spending long hours at work to make up the difference. This can drive your stress levels even higher.
- Susceptibility to illness. Stress can make you more susceptible to illnesses, fatigue, and exhaustion. If there’s a cold going around the office, you’ll be more vulnerable to it, and you’ll find yourself waking up feeling miserable more often.
- Blood pressure. Over time, stress can drive up your blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with a variety of other conditions, and can put you at risk for heart disease.
- Stress can make it easier for your body to gain weight, and it can drive you to comfort foods and unhealthy food choices. In time, you’ll likely gain weight, which can lead to feelings of unwellness, and a variety of health conditions.
- Risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. High blood pressure and higher weight, in combination with stress especially, can leave you more vulnerable to a wide range of different health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
- Being stressed on a chronic basis can interfere with your ability to form and recall short-term memories. This will make it exceedingly difficult to function in a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment.
- Cognitive tasks. Almost any task that requires your attention, concentration, or reasoning will be harder to complete while you’re stressed. Your brain won’t function as efficiently, and you’ll have less energy to invest in these initiatives.
How to Manage Stress
If you respond to your stress only once the physical symptoms start to emerge, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Instead, you need to work proactively, managing your stress on a daily basis and preventing it from taking its toll on your body and mind:
- Physical exercise can make almost anything better; you’ll restore your energy, burn stress, and mitigate your risks for high blood pressure and weight gain.
- Spending 30 minutes meditating in the morning or at night (after work) can significantly decrease your stress.
- Eat healthy. Eating healthy will help you improve your physical health and give you more energy throughout the day.
- Take breaks. Take breaks so the stress in your life doesn’t accumulate all at once. Even five minutes away from your desk can be significant.
- Spend time with loved ones. Spend time with your friends and family. You’ll have a greater appreciation for life, and work won’t seem as significant or as stressful.
- Go on vacation. At least once a year, spend a week or two on vacation so you can recharge your batteries and get a fresh perspective on life.
Thankfully, though stress isn’t entirely preventable, it is entirely manageable. If you keep a close eye on your stress levels, mitigate what you can, and prioritize your own health, you can keep yourself in great condition, even in the most challenging circumstances.