Working alone as a solo-preneur can be lonely and exhausting. It’s the only real thing I miss about not working a normal 9-5 job - the social interaction, relationships and connection you have from ‘going to work’ everyday. For me it was these relationships which often helped to relieve stress I was experiencing at work (ad even sometimes in my personal life). Without these face-to-face connections it can feel like you’re on your own. I’m all to familiar with the feeling of loneliness when speaking to my clients as well.
So this slightly different guest blog post from Dr Jane Durston is very helpful in becoming aware of the stressors to look out for so they don’t become to severe.
I’ve had a bad day!
Yes, even coaches have bad days when the stress keeps coming in. IT issues- always get’s my stress levels up! Add on a problem with the washing machine and a load of wet washing, the dog rolling in something unsavoury and having to be washed followed by a client arriving late and expecting a full hour consultation in 15 minutes.
All these things keep getting dripped in, a bit at a time.
The thing is that we all have stress in our lives, and it’s different for all of us, but groups of people can share similar occupational or workplace stress. Add to that your individual stressors from our life such as finance, relationship, bereavement, life purpose, spirituality and health to name but a few then the stress becomes very personal and you can feel as though you are very alone.
As an entrepreneur, often solo, there are added stressors- you love the job, but you need to make some money and reconciling that and maintaining your values can result in uncomfortable thoughts.
Small amounts of stress can help productivity such as a presentation, then there is the excitement as it’s finished.
It’s the continual grinding stress that wears people down and produces health problems that needs to be dealt with.
Continual stress comes when you can’t see the wood for the trees and the added trouble from this is that you get used to it. It becomes familiar, part of life and almost comfortable. You begin to tell yourself that you “thrive on it”. This type of stress may cause you to create beliefs that can add to that stress -people will find out you’re a pretender, you (or your work) must be perfect.
Unfortunately work place stress doesn’t stay at work, it takes a toll on your health and productivity both of which are important to you.
In simple form it can be frequent headaches, poor sleep, irritability, bowel symptoms. Progression can lead to depression and even suicide, depressed immune system, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M E), fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and a host of other things.
Compounding this is the fact that coping mechanisms such as poor nutrition, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs produce added detrimental health effects. This is something like nutritional stress in animals, because when your body really needs good nutrition it gets junk.
So what stress might you be experiencing related to your work?
Poor income or erratic income
No job security
Lack of social or peer support.
Doing what you feel you “should” be doing
Working at home, is it the right environment?
So how do you manage stress?
1. The first thing is to keep a journal of what is winding you up and how you react with feelings and action. Did you lose your temper, go and raid the cupboard for snacks or have a cigarette? Can you only relax with a glass (or more) of wine?
2. Check your work/ life boundaries. It can be as simple as allocating time for household chores alongside your work, so you know exactly what you need to do.
3. Try and “leave the office” so that you have time off during the day for breaks and meals. This can be a simple as shutting the door to your work space and not returning until after your break.
4. Take time to recharge. Think of yourself as a bucket with a drainage hole in the bottom. When you are stressed, the drainage hole is closed. The stress keeps dripping in all the time until it overflows, and then you get the health issues. The good thing is that you can open that drainage hole and drain out the stress by taking time to recharge so you stop thinking about work or doing work. Make it fit in with your life, do it in short bursts at lunch time and breaks so when you come back to work you feel refreshed and invigorated. Go for a walk in a park or open space if possible, leave your phone behind.
5. Learn how to relax. Try meditation, deep breathing or mindfulness starting with a few minutes a day and build it up. Have a look at apps like Headspace for help getting started with meditation or online course like Ziva meditation
6. If there is an issue that keeps bubbling up, take action to remedy it or accept the situation and move on. Often things we resist or focus on become much bigger. What we resist, persists.
Dr Jane Durston retired from medicine because of workplace stress, burnout and depression. She retrained as a health and life coach and a nutritional therapist, first of all applying this to herself. “I lost weight, regained my energy, learnt how to manage my stress and anxiety. Now I work with people like you to help them heal themselves, to transform their lives; so that you don’t have to experience what I did, and it doesn’t have to take years”.