Being a small business owner or creator can come with a sense of creative freedom and purpose, but it can also come with stress and anxiety that take a toll on your mental health. Between product launches, posting on social media, administrative work, managing cash flow, and building relationships with your audience, it’s no wonder that creators can feel the pressure of their jobs. Even if you love what you do, it can sometimes cause immense stress. So managing that stress is vital for you and your business to thrive!
For many creators, managing their stress can feel like yet another task on the seemingly never-ending to-do list. The good news is that there are ways to manage stress and prioritize your mental health that don’t require large time commitments or altering your lifestyle. The best management strategies for stress are those that don’t cause any more stress. And those that can fit into your existing lifestyle. Read on to discover fresh approaches to managing and even lessening your stress!
4 ways to manage your stress levels as a creator
1. Take stock of where you are
This first step requires that you be brutally honest with yourself. We know it might not always be comfortable, but it’s one of the keys to your success. So take stock of your business affairs as they are. This isn’t a time to judge yourself about the state of your business. Or a time to wilt at the sight of your disorganized inbox. The intention is to observe things exactly as they are so you can get an accurate idea of where there is room for improvement.
Write down all the different day-to-day tasks required for running your business. And then rate those tasks based on what is causing you the most stress, or what feels the most challenging. Those tasks and stressors could be anything from cash flow to content creation, figuring out your taxes or accounting, or anything else on the long list of tasks required to run a business.
Choose the top one or two items that you find the most challenging or stressful. Then get curious about how you could make them easier or more manageable. This could be cutting back on that task, reevaluating the importance of it, outsourcing some work, or lengthening your timelines. Whatever it is, be honest with yourself.
2. Cultivate a sense of ease
It’s inevitable that there will be periods of stress for creators and business owners. Our goal is not to negate any task that feels challenging, but to help you build resiliency when it comes to those aspects of your business while also finding ways to make it a little bit easier.
Making a task easier can be as simple as going to your favorite coffee shop to balance your business budget, and rewarding yourself with a nice pastry in the process. Create an environment for yourself where you feel relaxed and nourished before doing any of the challenging components.
You can also make things a lot easier for yourself by learning to delegate tasks. This is a leap that many small business owners hesitate to take, and it usually has to do with money or not wanting to let go of control, or struggling to trust someone else to do things the “right” way.
Hire support where you can! This can be an IRL assistant or a virtual assistant. They can help you do simple tasks like editing content or responding to emails. Or they can even help by using virtual systems to help you get organized and stay on top of things. You can also use software to help organize tasks and make them available for an assistant to work on remotely. Tools like Quickbooks to track your finances, Calendly to schedule client calls, Mailchimp or Flodesk for automating emails, or using Zapier to create automation across platforms can all help.
For almost anything that you need to get done, there is software to help automate it. This gives you more time to be creative and to rest when you need to. If you’ve got the money it can be well worth spending it on these platform subscriptions or to hire a virtual assistant.
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3. Tend to yourself at the moment
As a creator or business owner, you’ve probably experienced the feeling that you’re never truly done with work. As a result, it can feel more productive to power through your to-do list. And sometimes powering through means neglecting whatever you’re feeling at that moment. This habit of compartmentalizing or avoiding how you’re feeling can lead to a build-up of emotions. Over time, that build-up can result in anxiety or dread. The low-grade kind that you can’t quite put your finger on. You’re probably familiar with the feeling.
So instead, when you notice a thought of worry or anxiety that’s taking up space in your mind, tend to it right away. To do this you can do a five-minute meditation and breathwork, go for a walk, or even shake your body. All three of these actions can help you feel more equipped to knock out your to-do list.
It might seem counterintuitive to take time away from completing tasks when the completion of tasks is what’s causing stress in the first place. But feeling a little bit better at the moment can make the work you do flow much more smoothly. And that means you’re less likely to spiral out from pent-up anxiety. Think of incorporating these brief practices throughout your day as needed as a preventative and necessary measure!
4. Look beyond productivity
Productivity is an important measure of success as a business owner or creator. But it’s only one part of a large whole. Hustle culture places a lot of emphasis on making money, finding success, and being ultra-productive all the time. But the truth is being on all the time is an unrealistic expectation for anyone. You need to rest and recharge so that you don’t burn out. Sometimes, resting is the most productive thing you can do.
If you find it hard to rest or settle down when you do have time to relax, it might be time to tune into your nervous system. Calming the nervous system, or stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, allows your body to replenish and recharge. Think of it as a way to help your physical body de-stress. And it goes beyond the body. Your mind will have a challenging time calming down too if your body is still in a state of fight or flight and stress.
You can calm your nervous system by doing a slow-paced guided breathing exercise, splashing cold water on your face or taking a cold shower, or even spending time outside with your feet in the grass. Going through your day with a calm nervous system means more of your mind is available for the task at hand.
Overall, you get to define what success in your business looks like. Focusing solely on metrics and cash flow can be a recipe for stress because while data and numbers are important, they don’t matter as much if you’re highly stressed out in the process. Try weaving wellness goals alongside your business goals. And watch how this shift in focus and dedicating more time to your well-being can greatly reduce stress.
Implementing these strategies
The last thing we want is for these methods to de-stress to cause you any more stress. So treat it like a buffet and pick and choose what works for you. Consider your routine, and where these methods can fit into your existing time. Remember, it’s your journey and you have the power to change it as you go.