How to Stress Less

Date: July 01, 2014

3 tips for staying calm under pressure.

Stress may seem an unavoidable
side effect of a small business owner’s busy schedule, but it doesn’t have to
rule your life, says speaker Maura Thomas of Austin, Texas, author of Personal
Productivity Secrets
and founder of RegainYourTime.com. Here, she shares
three tips for minimizing stress and maximizing well-being.

1. Make a list. “Much of our stress is caused by worrying and trying to remember all of
the things we aren’t doing
now,” Thomas says. Many people carry their to-do lists in their head, which
puts them under an extraordinary amount of pressure to remember everything.
Jotting haphazardly on a piece of paper isn’t the best solution, either, Thomas
says—“because unless you remember to look in the right place of the right
notebook at the right time, that task might still be forgotten.” She recommends
an electronic to-do list tool, such as the task list in Microsoft Outlook or
Apple’s Reminders app, or stand-alone programs such as Remember the Milk or
Todoist.

2. Take a break. How many days have you spent at your desk, hunched over a computer or
smartphone, believing you don’t have time for a break? “Studies show that
prolonged periods of physical inactivity dull our creative capacity, burn us
out and, yes, increase our stress,” Thomas says. “We fail to make the best use
of our most important resources—our body and mind—in an effort to save time.”

Take a break
at least once an hour to stand up, stretch or walk around the office—and don’t
feel guilty about taking a lunch break. Kimberly Elsbach, a management
professor at the University of California-Davis who studies workplace
psychology, told Time magazine that a
brief respite from your desk improves productivity and creativity. “If you’re
skipping lunch to continue to push forward in a very intense cognitive
capacity, then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors,” she says.

3. Get moving. Outside of working hours, exercise is one of the best ways to bust
stress, regulate your sleep cycle, improve your mood and focus your frazzled
mind after a busy day. The Mayo Clinic reports that any kind of exercise, from aerobics
to yoga, provides stress-relieving benefits
.

For healthy adults, the Department
of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate
exercise (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as
running) every week. Best of all, the benefits of exercise far outlast your
sweat session. “Exercising regularly burns off stress, sharpens our mind, and
actually makes us better and faster at whatever tasks we
plan to tackle,” says Thomas.

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