Home Business Tips for Handling Stress
Whether launching a home-based business was your lifelong dream or an economic necessity, you want your venture to succeed. You work hard to attract and retain quality clients or customers, you are constantly looking for new opportunities, and you are always seeking ways to learn more about marketing, budgeting, and taxes. Your days probably start early and end late, and your business may be on your mind from the time you wake up until you fall asleep. Your business is important to you, but you should never forget that your physical and emotional health is directly tied to your business success. Unfortunately, studies have shown that home-based business owners tend to suffer from higher levels of stress than their counterparts who operate in traditional surroundings. The good news is that it is possible to reduce stress and counteract its negative effects by giving yourself a little more attention.
In the Morning, Little Things Mean a Lot
Do not rush to your computer first thing in the morning. Instead, devote the first hour or so of your day to tasks that will help you set the tone for the rest of your day. The order in which you handle the tasks is up to you.
1. Drink a glass of water before reaching for the coffee pot. Most people become a bit dehydrated while they sleep, and dehydration can negatively impact your energy levels and your ability to focus.
2. Make your bed. Studies have shown that people who make their beds every morning tend to be more productive throughout the day. The reasons are unclear, but some researchers speculate that the act can provide a sense of accomplishment that boosts motivation.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Your morning meal does not need to be elaborate, but it should provide the proper balance of protein and carbohydrates to keep you going until lunch. If you have a medical condition, you should consult your physician about your specific diet. For most people, however, a hardboiled egg, a piece of multigrain toast, and a cup of nonfat milk may be all that they need for breakfast. Greek yogurt or oatmeal can also be a good choice, especially if topped with blueberries, bananas, or raspberries. If you have a balcony or patio, consider eating your breakfast outside when the weather is conducive.
4. Dress for work. If you have always preferred to shower in the morning, shower. Otherwise, change from your pajamas into your work clothes. Your work outfit may be a sweatsuit, jeans and a tee, or even a different pair of pajamas. The point is to have your clothing emphasize that you are shifting from leisure time to work time. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face, or do whatever else your normal morning grooming routine encompasses.
5. If you already have a morning exercise routine, maintain it. If not, consider taking a short walk after breakfast. At the very least, perform a few stretches.
6. Many people find it beneficial to schedule a few minutes of quiet time in the morning. Meditate, write in your journal, or simply think about the things or people in your life for which you are thankful.
Prepare for Your Week in Advance
Depending on your situation, spend a few hours or an entire day to prepare for the coming week. Your goal should be to put as many things as possible on autopilot so that you can avoid stressful or distracting situations during your workweek.
1. Plan healthy lunches for the week, shop for the necessary ingredients and prepare the meals to whatever extent is possible. Some people cook meals for the entire week, then freeze them in microwave-safe divided plates with covers so that all they need to do is reheat them at lunchtime. Other people prefer to enjoy a freshly cooked lunch, so their meal prep consists primarily of creating packets of chopped or sliced vegetables and containers of premeasured ingredients.
2. Select your work clothes for the coming week. Group the outfits together in the order in which you plan to wear them.
3. Tidy up your work area. Perform any housekeeping chores necessary, including dusting, cleaning your computer screen, sweeping, emptying the trash cans, or vacuuming.
4. Create a master list of tasks that you want to accomplish during the coming week. Your list might include paying bills, manufacturing a certain number of items for inventory, responding to emails requesting information on your services, or writing a blog post for your website. Prioritize each task, but always remember that your priorities may change. A frantic call from a valued customer, the late arrival of a part you need to make your goods, or life in general can throw your schedule into disarray. This can be extremely stressful if you consider your list immutable or have not built in some cushions of time that you can use to respond to the needed alterations.
5. Spend some time on yourself. Read a book, video chat with distant friends or relatives, stream a movie, or take a drive in the country. As long as you are doing something you enjoy, it really does not matter what you do. Taking a little personal time can be a great way to recharge your batteries and reduce your stress.
Take Some Major Steps
Once you have mastered the little things, it is time to tackle a few long-term issues that home-based entrepreneurs frequently encounter.
1. Learn how to delegate tasks. Trying to do everything is a major source of stress for home-based entrepreneurs. If you have employees, make them responsible for certain tasks. However, be sure that you have provided them with any training or tools they need to be successful. If you share your home with a roommate, spouse, or other family members, take the same approach.
2. Communicate your work hours to friends and relatives. They need to understand that you are working from home. Just because you are home does not mean that you are available to babysit, pick them up when they call from the airport, or walk their dogs every day precisely at noon. Naturally, emergencies can arise, and you may want to help. Just ask yourself what you would do if you were working in a traditional workplace. If you would not consider their emergency to be sufficient justification for leaving your job at an employer’s office, it is not sufficient justification to leave your home office.
3. Make and keep your appointments with health care providers. If you have a chronic condition, make sure that you keep your appointments with your physician for your periodic evaluations. Otherwise, you may only need a routine physical every year. Visit your dentist once or twice a year for routine care, and have your eyes checked at least every two years. Routine visits to your physician, dentist, and optometrist can often detect issues that can be corrected before they pose threats to your health. Health issues can be extremely stressful, especially if they interfere with your ability to manage your business.
4. Learn to turn down business. No matter how fast your home-based company is growing, there is only so much work that you can handle. It may sound counterintuitive, but taking on too much work can be detrimental to your success. If you are extremely stressed over the volume of work that you need to complete, there is a good chance that your work will not be up to your normal quality. Even worse, it may fail to meet the expectations that your customers have, permanently damaging existing relationships or marring your reputation.
5. Maintain a schedule that will allow you to get enough sleep every night. You should have a predetermined quitting time, and you should try to avoid working past that time. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and arise at the same time every morning. A chaotic or abbreviated sleeping schedule can contribute to daytime fatigue, an inability to focus, and slower reflexes.
6. Have someone else manage your business mail. Keeping your business mail and personal mail separate can help reduce stress. A virtual business address service can not only manage your business mail but can also provide you a business address that is not your home address; helping you keep your business and personal life separate.
In the modern world, a certain amount of stress is inevitable. As such, the trick is not to avoid all stress; the key is to learn how to reduce your stress enough that you can cope with it.