Stress is a part and parcel of the entrepreneur's life, but it doesn't have to pull you down. This guide covers five science-backed techniques of defeating stress.
The life of an entrepreneur is like a lifetime subscription of stress. With investor meetings, wild fights for talent acquisition, the need for endless innovation, customer feedback and whatnot, the life of an entrepreneur is not for the fainthearted. Even the staunchest of entrepreneurs could fall victim to the ravages of prolonged stress. This is where the steps to mitigate stress become so crucial. In this guide, I'll cover some research-backed methods that entrepreneurs can rely on to kill stress.
1. Strike a pose that says 'I'm powerful.'
Sounds crazy? Science often is! Researchers from Harvard and Columbia did a study whose findings have been published in the Psychological Science Journal. The experiment measured the amounts of cortisol (the hormone released in the human body in stressful situations) in participants' spit. The two groups were made to stand in different poses – one expressive of high power, the other of low power. High-power poses resulted in significantly lower cortisol levels. This is one of many similar types of research that have confirmed the effects of a high-power pose in reducing stress, so go for it.
2. Laugh your way out of stress.
It's amazing how quickly laughter can mask the symptoms of stress and help you relax, even on days when you're swamped with demands from employees, customers and investors alike. Professors at Western Kentucky University conducted a study wherein two groups were exposed to different videos. The group that saw the comedy video showed lower stress levels than the control group that watched a video on tourism.
The Mayo Clinic states that laughter can stimulate blood circulation and promote muscle relaxation, which can help you overcome stress quickly. You'll never have to look too far for a research study that embraces the stress-busting power of laughter. So, subscribe to some hilarious YouTube channels, stay away from brooders, and look to crack the odd joke every now and then, lest stress crack you.
3. Sleep like a child.
Entrepreneurs are a sleep-deprived lot. Most of them accept it as an occupational hazard, and only a few realize how their bodies play little tricks to make them feel awake. Among these tricks are chemicals that make you eat more. Plus, sleep deprivation ramps up cortisol levels in the body. Look long and hard, and compare the top mattresses before you buy one; go for the best mattress and bedding you can lay your hands on.
4. Practice mindful meditation.
Mindful meditation, though difficult, can be a dependable long-term solution to combat stress. The practice has already widened its hold in the Western world and is backed with a lot of scientific studies that stand by the anti-stress effects of meditation. Mindfulness can be described as unbiased attention to the experience of the current moment.
Do this exercise right now: Close your eyes and take 10 long breaths, focusing on nothing apart from the rhythm of your breathing. Doing this, along with several other techniques of mindful meditation, helps bring your focus to the present moment. Since most of your stress originates from the past or is linked to your view of the future, this naturally helps close doors on stress.
A meta-analysis of 47 studies was published in 2014; it captured the essence of how science explains and confirms the stress-busting power of meditation. I recommend Headspace, an app that helps you meditate. Also, consider playing ambient music that helps shut out the visions and voices in your head while you work. Subscribe to podcasts that can help you meditate, even if it's just for five minutes a day.
5. Go tech-free for some time every day.
As impractical as it sounds, keeping yourself free of technology for some time can significantly bring down your stress levels. Now, being in charge of a globally relevant business means you need to be connected, accessible and charged up pretty much all your waking hours. However, it's precisely because of this ubiquitous nature of technology that even a small period of separation helps you feel relaxed and connected with yourself.
Research has proven that overuse of cell phones results in the percolation of workplace stress to the home atmosphere. Also, experiments have been conducted to show how less exposure to emails reduces stress. Now, this suggestion is something that you need to mold according to your work requirements; however, what's certain is that for every five minutes of tech-free living you can experience, your stress levels are bound to lower.
To win all the business battles ahead, you'll need to combat stress every now and then. The methods discussed in this guide will help.