Practical steps to cope with stress & maximise wellbeing

Faced with such an overwhelming number of commitments, deadlines, meetings and tasks, it is not uncommon for small to medium business (SMB) owners to have their own personal wellbeing low on their list of priorities. However with Deloitte’s 2018 Human Capital Report finding that society is working under more stress than ever before, placing a focus on your health and wellbeing must be of paramount importance as you strive to build a successful organisation.

Through our partnership with AusIndustry to deliver the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme, we have worked with over 1500 SMBs since 2015 via a network of skilled business advisors and facilitators operating around the country. This provides us with a unique insight into how many SMB owners around Australia are managing stress and maximising their wellbeing.

You have to look after number one. Below are some practical tips to maximise your wellbeing and cope with stress, ultimately ensuring you get the very best out of yourself – and your business – day after day.

1. Celebrate your wins

Our brains are four times more likely to notice a negative than a positive. As an SMB owner with such a relentless focus on success, this tendency can be amplified even further. It is easy to get caught up and stressed about how that important meeting could have gone better, how many tasks are behind schedule or how different things could be if you just had that little bit more capital. To avoid the heightened stress levels and lower happiness that comes with this subconscious emphasis on negatives, take time to celebrate your wins and focus on the things that are going well.

  • Jot it down: Spend a few minutes per night with a pen and paper writing down anything that you felt went well that day, or is going well in general. You will surprise yourself – chances are there is a lot more to celebrate than you are giving yourself credit for. Research shows that getting into the habit of writing these things down reduces stress, and also trains our brain to get better at noticing positives on a day-to-day basis. The result? Increased happiness and motivation at work.
  • Size doesn’t matter: Be sure not to neglect even the smallest of accomplishments or milestones. It all counts – taking time to stop, recognise and celebrate these positives will all add up.
2. Learn to Delegate

SMB owners are notoriously reluctant to ask for help, often feeling that the success of the business rests entirely on their shoulders. Whilst it can be a difficult step to let go and entrust others with important work, the art of delegation is crucial for reducing stress levels. Handing over some tasks will ensure your time and focus is directed on your most important jobs, not spread equally across a wide range of work that could be completed by others.

  • Establish a priority system: Start by asking yourself what tasks must be completed by you. After this, implement a system to rank the priority of tasks. One idea is to categorise tasks based on effort and skill level required. Delegating a high effort/low skill task, for example, will save you significant amounts of time, energy and stress
  • Think outside the square: Don’t panic if you are running your SMB solo – delegation is still possible without staff. There is an amazing amount of resources available that allow SMB owners to outsource work. Tapping into other businesses to build your social media presence or look after your bookkeeping, for example, can help avoid the stressful feeling that there are simply not enough hours in the day to complete your seemingly endless list of tasks.
3. Be Mindful in the Grind

Inundated with various important tasks and meetings every day, SMB owners can ill afford to be wasting energy worrying about a missed sale yesterday, or a crucial meeting next week. Amazingly, we are able to re-wire the part of our brain that controls our stress response. While it may not be obvious, regular mindfulness practice will make you far more calm when under the unavoidable stress that comes with running an SMB.

  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness trains our brains to be focused on the present moment, not worrying about the past or future. Practicing mindfulness for just a few minutes per day has been proven to have a significant positive impact on stress levels, happiness and business performance. It also ensures that that all energy and focus is directed at the task at hand, resulting in increased productivity and overall work quality
  • How to get started: There are some fantastic online resources to kick start your mindfulness journey. Calm and Headspace are two mobile applications that offer guided, 10 minute mindfulness sessions that are designed especially for professionals. It is a great idea to get in a routine – set aside 10 minutes per day at the same time to help hold yourself accountable to practicing mindfulness on a daily basis.

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