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Chill pill: What entrepreneurs can do to reduce stress at work

We must do more than just take a step back to reflect on our heavy workload. It is imperative that we diarise time to turn those reflections and insights into behavioural change for the sake of both our personal and professional lives.

Psychologists say that it is the close proximity with death that is the most major trigger for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). — © AFP
Psychologists say that it is the close proximity with death that is the most major trigger for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). — © AFP

What does it mean to feel ‘stressed’? It’s a word commonly used in everyday life, all over the world, yet it encompasses many different feelings and emotions all at once. Last year, 52 percent of workers in Britain revealed they felt stressed and that’s before the cost of living crisis hit and raised additional concerns.

One of the biggest factors for the feeling of ‘stress’ with emotions like worry, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed relates to work and employment. Understanding the drivers is important for business leaders, who not only have to consider their own feelings but those of their employees to ensure their business is running smoothly and their workers happy.

Gitanjali Trevorrow-Seymour, CEO and Founder of High Definition You and member of EO London, has considered the impact of stress on businesses and how companies can alleviate it.

In introducing the topic of stress, Trevorrow-Seymour says: “It’s fair to say that we live in a stressful world. Measurements of success are often based on how ‘busy’ we are and how much time we spend working.”

According to research published on Statista, the most common form of stress is work-related, affecting 79 percent of people in the UK.

In light of this, Trevorrow-Seymour says: “While working to achieve your goals is no bad thing, it’s important to remember that busyness does not equal productivity – far from it. It is a common misconception that to be productive you have to be busy, which can be a large cause of stress for many people, and the impact that this stress can have should not be underestimated.”

In terms of the impact of stress, Trevorrow-Seymour observes: “It’s well known that stress can have a physical impact on our body, causing tiredness, headaches, stomach problems, high bloody pressure, and even increase the risk of heart disease. In addition, the  psychological and mental affects also cause changes in mood, anxiety, depression and loneliness among many others.”

This is something that should concern business leaders, according to Trevorrow-Seymour: “Most of us are probably aware of those issues at some level , but that does not take away from the seriousness with which we should treat stress. This is especially important for entrepreneurs. As rewarding as the entrepreneurial journey can be, it’s also incredibly stressful.”

Data from the British Association for Councillors and Psychotherapists revealed that of those surveyed, 63 percent admitted to prioritising financial success over their mental wellbeing. Meanwhile, 79 percent find running their business to be stressful, yet 68 percent feel they have no one to talk to about this stress.

Trevorrow-Seymour states: “It is therefore fundamental that we deal with stress head-on so that it doesn’t become overwhelming or negatively impact our health and business. If you aren’t already taking active steps in this direction, Stress Awareness Month is an ideal opportunity to do just that.”

In terms of good practice examples, Trevorrow-Seymour cites:

Don’t be afraid to seek help

For entrepreneurs, Trevorrow-Seymour advises: “We need to put our pride aside and accept that seeking help is never a weakness and could actually be key to keeping our business from falling flat. After all, if you begin your business journey with a healthy attitude to stress, this will trickle down as your business grows. While you may think this obvious advice that you hear a lot, those of us who actually listen and relinquish some controls are quite slim.” 

A Gallup study found that those businesses that entrepreneurs who delegated efficiently, increase revenue by 33 percent. The lesson according to Trevorrow-Seymour  is: “Next time you find yourself doing it all, take note and put measures in place. Be that sharing some of the workload to existing and new employees or simply asking your personal network for help on admin tasks at initial stages, it makes all the difference knowing you have support around you.”

Have programmes in place for your employees too

While entrepreneurship is stressful, so too is the world of work and employees are in no way immune from feeling stress.

Trevorrow-Seymour recommends: “If those running the business are stressed, this can, and likely will, be passed on to employees.  After all, stress is an emotional contagion. This is not to put pressure on you, but rather to acknowledge the impact that it has on all employees. Not only is it the right thing to do, but as employers, we have a duty of care, and this includes support for stress. Making sure your employees have access to the right support channels and can reach out either to you, someone in the business or externally will hugely benefit employee wellbeing and retention.”

Take a look at the Stress Awareness Month’s corporate stress test as a start.

Connect with fellow entrepreneurs

Another piece of advice from Trevorrow-Seymour is: “Simply talking to those in a similar position to you can transform your outlook. In the same vein as asking for help, connecting with other entrepreneurs from all sectors and industries can help you gain valuable insight and also help create a sense of community around you to go to for mentoring, learning and networking.”

Trevorrow-Seymour concludes by recommending: “We must do more than just take a step back to reflect on our heavy workload. It is imperative that we diarise time to turn those reflections and insights into behavioural change for the sake of both our personal and professional lives. Taking control of stress levels, at whatever stage of your business journey will not only improve your wellbeing, but filter down into employee morale and mindset. When we can conquer the darkness that stress brings , we can look forward to a very bright future ahead of us.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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