As mental health awareness improves, we are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea that self-care is not just nice, it’s necessary. A huge part of self-care is managing stress. Whether you’re a business owner or the high-minded career type, burnout is a real possibility if you don’t learn to deal with stress in a healthy way. Here are a few simple ways to keep stress under control so you can smash your goals and hit the ground running.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is necessary for good overall health, but it is also one of the most effective tools against stress that we have. According to Harvard Health, aerobic exercise reduces stress in a physical way, by reducing cortisol (a stress hormone) and releasing endorphins (happiness hormones), but also by simply making you feel better about yourself.

Get Enough Sleep

The relationship between sleep and stress is complicated. Stress can make it harder to sleep, while a lack of sleep can worsen stress. The good news is that by focusing on stress reduction through other methods like the ones mentioned here, you can already take huge steps to improve your sleep. Another thing you can do is set for yourself a strict sleeping schedule (allowing for at least seven hours of sleep) and limit the use of electronics before bed.

Give Yourself Downtime

No matter how busy you are at work, you need to give yourself proper downtime. This is especially important for freelancers and entrepreneurs whose work can easily bleed into (and take over) their personal life. The concept of “mental downtime” is crucial: time when you allow your mind to wander and to sit idle. A big part of this is learning to rely on your phone less for information and entertainment, and occasionally disconnecting from emails and social media.

Engage in Hobbies

Instead of using your free time to watch, read, or listen to content created by others, focus on nourishing your own hobbies. Hobbies can be a significant source of stress relief, providing a sense of fun, gratification, and self-expression. According to Verywell Mind, they have also been shown to help protect against burnout.

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Yes, this one’s hard to hear. You may think you need coffee to get you through the day, but your caffeine habit may be doing more harm than good. There are several proven links between caffeine intake and anxiety, and caffeine’s impact on sleep can also have an indirect effect on your stress levels. You don’t need to cut it out altogether, but replacing some of your cups of coffee with decaf or herbal tea can help you feel less on edge.

Stay on Top of Your Mental Health

Finally, check in regularly with yourself and stay informed on mental health. In particular, know the difference between stress and anxiety: one is caused by a specific stressor, the other is more pervasive and remains even after the stressor is gone. If you suspect you are suffering from anxiety, talk to a medical professional who can guide you toward recovery.

Look After Your Business

While all of the previously mentioned methods of reducing stress focused on what you can do for yourself on a personal level, there are several important things you can do at work that can have a far-reaching effect on your anxiety. For example, surround yourself with incredible employees, people you can trust to run the show when you’re busy with other things. Also, make sure you stay on top of your finances to ensure that you won’t find yourself in a sticky situation during the leaner periods. And, last but certainly not least, make data loss prevention a top priority, whether that’s installing software to track the flow of client/customer data through your company or hiring someone to audit this information on a regular basis. While taking care of yourself is definitely a key to reducing stress, ensuring your business stays successful and your clients’ data remains secure can provide a wealth of relief.

Only by regularly focusing on yourself and your needs will you be able to consistently focus on your work. Your career is important, but it should never take precedence over your health, happiness, and well-being. Remember that self-care is never selfish or “being lazy,” it’s literally what your body and mind need in order to function at their best. 

Guest Author:

Julie Morris
Life and Career Coach

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