Good and bad stress in running a business

Starting a business or running your own company can certainly be a stressful experience, but not all of it is bad for you, some stress is essential.

It all depends on how that stress has come about and its duration. Chronic ongoing, wear-you-down type stress is clearly not good. Whereas the type of stress that gets your pulse racing as you stand up to address an audience, or close a big deal, can just ensure that you are working at the top of your game.

Dr Suzanne Segerstrom and Dr Gregory Miller published a meta study in the journal Psychological Bulletin a few years ago that showed that the immune system actually got stronger with short-term positive stress, but slowly deceased when long-term stress was involved.

Stress is not just something that happens in your mind. There are real and actual physical results of stress. Never just dismiss it, understand why it is happening and decide if it is helpful stress or harmful stress.

Stress that helps your business.
In fact if there is no little peaks of stress, in your working life, it may just be that you are not achieving all that you could do. It can indicate that you have become too entrenched in your comfort zone and you no longer are searching out and grabbing those opportunities. This is worth looking at.

Stress that hinders your business.
Chronic stress however is draining and can affect your health and your business. The best way of dealing with such stress is not to ignore it.

Whether it has come about through pressures from the business, illness, past circumstances or home relationships, it is best tackled by firstly recognising that it exists and then doing something positive about it. Taking action is a great stress reliever and puts you back in control.

 In business there is a sense of needing to be strong, but never be ashamed to admit to yourself that you have stress issues, because in doing so you will be taking control and that is showing strength.

How to control stress to help your business.
1.   Recognise if you are being affected by stress

  •   None at all, not even the odd little peak?  Look at perhaps stretching yourself and getting new challenges.

  •   On-going stress?  Either high levels, or even continual low levels are draining.


2.   Identify the source of the stress.

  • Come up with a plan to deal with it, doing that is empowering in itself and will help.

  • If it is from areas difficult to deal with yourself (childhood, personal relationships, illness) you can talk to a qualified counsellor (see below) who can help to cope with these. Again there is no embarrassment in this, it is just being practical.

  • It may be that stress is just through too much to do. In that case is it a temporary problem, or has it become permanent? In which case you have to face up to it and bring more hands on board, or reduce what you are doing (better systems, more efficiencies). You can't operate effectively otherwise.

  • Perhaps the stress is in what you are doing. Not everyone likes cold-calling, or sales, or supervising people. Look at what you enjoy and do that, get others who do enjoy those areas to do them, if necessary you can contract or outsource some areas. If you really can't avoid those functions, get specialist training that will give you confidence and reduce the stress.

There is a whole body of information on the web that you can explore on this subject, once you start to recognise how stress occurs and its affects, you can put in place your plans to be the master of it.

Useful "find a counsellor" link: BPS find a counsellor service