April is Stress Awareness Month: How Small Business Owners Can Observe

Stress is usually always present in professionals and personal lives. This has never been so evident as during the 2020/2021 pandemic and economic downturn. Stress Awareness Month has been recognized every April since 1992 and it’s an opportunity to take stock and pivot your operations as needed.

As a business owner, it’s important to recognize and address any issues that are blocking you from performing at your most productive level. Here’s information about the impact stress can have on your overall life and strategies to help manage it.

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How does stress affect your heath?

Surprisingly, some forms of stress can be helpful. It’s an animal instinct imprinted over thousands of years to keep us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger.

However, it’s no secret that too much stress can make us sick, impacting our ability to function well. Stress can even bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases, research shows, as WebMD’s medical experts.

If you're constantly under stress, you can also have physical symptoms including headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and problems with sex and sleep. Stress can lead to emotional problems, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry. It's not just the stress that's the problem, it’s how your brain and body responds to it.

Here’s more information about stress and ways to combat the physical and mental effects that can impact you, your family, and your business.

How does stress affect your business?

As employees experience unmanageable levels of stress, they may face depression, anxiety, and lose focus on their job. As a result, employees can commit more mistakes and work performance may be compromised. This can make employees constantly seek medical attention, take more time off work, and affect business operations. As the business owner, you’re sensitive to these reactions as well. Your stress level can affect work flow and even your bottom line. But there is good news. Some stress can be faced, treated, and overcome.

What can you do to alleviate stress as a small business owner?

Employee safety, working remotely, economic downturns, and cashflow problems can be a lot for a business owner. Here’s strategies to lessen the effects.

  • Know where you stand. One of the best ways to cut down on stress is to know where you stand. The result might not be what you’d like, but getting organized can help alleviate worry and stress. Read our article to help you get started: All About Small Business Financial Management.
  • Focus on what's going right. As you're building your business, it is easy to only focus on things that cause problem and slow down operations. Look at your operations, marketing, and employee management to determine the positives.
  • Make a task list. One of the causes of stress in business is being so busy that you don’t know where to start and things slip through the cracks. Look at the tasks on your plate. First, can any be delegated? Start there. Next, rank by importance and outline the steps you need to address. You’ll probably find yourself exhaling when you’ve organized.
  • Take breaks. How do you feel physically and mentally? Almost everyone these days is feeling burned pandemic burnout. You might be facing declining sales, health issues, or employee staff reductions. A good strategy is to review your day to see if there are any tasks you can cut down, eliminate, or delegate. Physical fitness goes a long way towards a feeling of wellbeing. Most people can fit in a short walk or bike ride each day to get their heart pumping. Check out our blog post 4 Essential Tips for Avoiding Burnout as a Small Business Owner for actionable advice.

How can you help employees lower stress?

Here are simple ways most business owners can provide stress relief for their employees.

1. Invest in Stress Toys

Stress toys can be an amazing investment if you want to eliminate stress in your dedicated employees. You can find stress toys at the local department store, or you can order them online. Such toys range from inexpensive squishy hand toys, to full-blown sensory contraptions.

The object and purpose of the stress toy is to put the employee's mind on something other than the object of the stress. Stress toys can make excellent promotional toys for your customers as well as tools for your employees.

2. Offer Rewards Systems and Appreciation

Employees naturally love rewards and appreciation for their hard work. It activates the reward system in the brain and ends up mellowing the person out eventually. You can invest a small amount of funding to the project if you don’t feel as though the business’s funds are limited. You can have an employee appreciation day during which you buy your employees pizza or smoothies. That will create a relaxed mood, and it will boost productivity in the end. Try it and see what works.

3. Encourage Open-Door Policies

Finally, reassure your employees that you have an open-door policy, and they can come to you any time they have a complication. Many employees suffer stress silently because they think that no one will listen to their complaints or concerns. Letting them know that they have someone to talk to is the best way to keep high-stress situations to a minimum. Your workers should be able to come to you with a concern and know that you will look out for their best interest when it’s all said and done.

In conclusion

2020 and 2021 have been extremely hard on the world-wide population. Take some time to put the strategies above in place for you and your employees. It’s easier than ever to find support online whether that be exercise classes, meditation apps, or online therapy. Don’t hesitate to explore these ideas so you can get back to business.