5 Tips to Reduce Work Stress

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It’s easy to feel like Atlas when you’re running your own business. Some days, it probably seems like the weight of the world – your business world, that is – rests solely on your shoulders, and that kind of pressure can cause a lot of stress.


According to the Manta Q4 SMB Wellness Index, only 29 percent of SMB owners were eating healthier or working out more in 2012, a decrease of more than 20 percent from 2011. And, about half are working about 50 hours each week – a 20 percent increase from 2011 – and 40 percent say they average six hours or less of sleep each night.


The good news is that there are ways to avoid unhealthy stress, or at least take steps to minimize the amount you’re dealing with during a busy work week. Read on for five tips that you – and your staff – can put into action today:


1. Manage your time wisely
Not only does managing your time help you get more done, but planning your day efficiently will also reduce your stress level. First, look at how you spend your day. We all have time-sucking activities. Maybe it’s the sales calls that can be forwarded to a co-worker, or it’s that standing weekly meeting that you don’t really need to attend, or that long commute in the car that could be replaced by mass transit options a few days each week. Keep an ongoing to-do list with the most important priorities at the top. Having a set plan of attack makes it easy to put less-important tasks aside.


2. Think first, then say no – or delegate.
Business owners are asked to take on more and more each day, but it’s neither a wise nor realistic strategy to say yes to everything. Think about whether you really have the time for that business trip or that industry conference speaking gig – and whether it’s worth your time to go, or if you can send a colleague. For example, an industry conference might be the ideal place for lead generation, but it might be better for your sales manager to go instead.


3. Break up big projects.
Faced with an important new business proposal on a crazy timeline? Break it into smaller tasks, delegate where possible, and create a workback schedule to help everyone stay on track. Is it a project you dread? Work on it for just 10 minutes each day so you’re at least making progress.


4. Ask for support
No business is an island, and support is critical to accomplish everyday tasks and big picture goals. Create that village with a trusted team – at the office, at home, and within your social circle. This crucial social support network gives you the assurance that you have people that have your back – that are in your corner – when you most need it.


5. Put on your oxygen mask first.
The standard operating procedure on airplanes should also transfer to your office: take care of yourself first. That means eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly – even if it’s just a walk around the block in the morning. This also includes taking regular vacations or, if you just can’t get away for two weeks, taking a long weekend to relax and recharge. All are part of a healthy lifestyle, which can improve focus and concentration – and reduce unwanted stress.


Your Turn: What is your biggest source of stress at work? How do you de-stress? What strategies have worked best? Any advice for others? Let us know!


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