Workplace stress often goes undetected and neglected because most business owners are too busy struggling to keep on top of the tasks. There is no time to stop and look at the impact of work pressure on their mind and bodies. They don’t realise that everyday stress and work pressure can turn into serious mental and physical health problems.
Of course, stress is part of running a business, but it needs to be managed to avoid burnout. Burnout has become a significant issue among business owners: a form of chronic stress that can lead to psychological, emotional, and even physical distress. It makes you weaker day by day, and ultimately, you may find yourself unable to deal with business responsibilities. Burnout actually affects you in a number of ways. It’s best to identify the signs of burnout early and seek help.
Read on to learn if your level of stress has tipped over from a healthy level to one that could become damaging:
You are thinking about work all the time
Your business hours may be nine to five or even eight until late, but your mind is occupied with business issues and work all the time. Although it’s common for business owners to think about their work a lot of the time, overthinking can make things worse and affect your mental health. Invest your best mental energy during working hours. If you are constantly thinking about work during your commute, while eating, when trying to fall asleep, or during family time, you are suffering from stress. Try to limit your thoughts. If you are bringing too much work home, you could be suffering from burnout.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques can help you to stay in the moment and enjoy what you are doing, rather than being constantly preoccupied.
You are snapping at your employees
When you snap at your employees for no good reason, you may be too stressed out. For example: your employee is a few minutes late to respond to your call and you shout at him. You later feel embarrassed for overreacting, realising that there could be a better way to deal with the matter. When you are stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s common to overreact, and not realise that you are hurting others. This is because the stress has affected your mental bandwidth to consider another person’s feelings.
If you get to this stage you need to find ways of taking a step back. You may need a holiday or a few days break. Or at the very least, teach yourself to leave the room or count to ten before you react.
You are developing addictive habits
When you find that you need harmful addictive substances to get through the day, then you have a problem. Can you go for a few days without drinking alcohol? If not, then it is a clear sign that you are not dealing well with stress. While excessive drinking or drug taking is a symptom, not the initial cause, of stress, the multiple negative impacts that it adds to your health, finances and relationships will push your stress levels from acute to chronic. It is a vicious cycle.
If you are at an early stage and your addiction is still manageable, you may be able to nip it is the bud. Sort the stress out and you won’t need the crutch of addictive substances. If your addiction has gone beyond that level, you might feel that you and your business wouldn’t function without it. Don’t kid yourself. Get support, go to rehab, get clean. Build your life and your business on solid foundations.
You are not actually productive
You are overworking and overthinking, but you don’t seem to make any progress. This is because time and energy that could have been invested focusing on something productive are actually being wasted on the countless thoughts that are bouncing around inside your head. You feel helpless and have no idea how to control those thoughts. You feel overwhelmed because you have so much to do and you are stressing about it so much that you are not able to actually accomplish anything. This is your body’s response to the regular anxiety that impairs your concentration and focus on being productive.
The simple list is the best way of dealing with overwhelm. Write everything you need to do down. Prioritise it, in terms of importance and urgency. Anything that is a ‘nice to do’ but not really important to your business should then be binned or deleted. Every morning refresh your list. Complete the most unpleasant task first, usually it is easier and quicker than you expect. Just taking the time to put some order on things will make everything seem more manageable.
Finally, if you run your own business you can always be thankful that you are already avoiding one of the main causes of workplace stress: lack of control over your time and actions. Yes, working for yourself can be stressful, but at least you have autonomy and control over your own actions. That counts for a huge amount and as a result, research shows that people who work for themselves are overall less stressed and happier.