What is stress?

Feeling stressed or overwhelmed is a common response to challenging or new situations. Stress has both mental and physical aspects that bring on changes in your body which help you respond to the stressful situation.

Some stress is normal, but ongoing stress can cause further health problems, negatively affect your business or result in high turnover of staff and low productivity.

Common causes of stress for business owners

Stress can be triggered by different life experiences, such as the loss of a family member or friend, financial problems, health concerns or family or friendship breakdowns.

Everyone is stressed by different things, but some of the common situations that may cause business owners stress include:

  • workload and long hours
  • changes to your industry
  • the impacts of COVID-19
  • responsibility for employees
  • business finances and cash flow.

Signs of stress

There are a common physical warning signs of stress such as:

  • your heart beating faster
  • feeling panicked or anxious
  • muscle tension
  • headaches
  • poor sleep
  • feeling irritable.

All of these feelings should pass after the stressful situation is over. If they don't pass, it may be a sign that you are too stressed.

The point where stress is no longer productive is different for everyone, but you might look out for the following clues:

  • feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
  • feeling ‘on edge’ or unable to stop worrying
  • changes in sleep patterns, feeling exhausted
  • changes in appetite
  • difficulty concentrating
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • reliance on alcohol or other substances to cope
  • thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Learn where to get mental health and wellbeing support.

Manage and reduce stress

Here are some ways you can manage and reduce stress:

  • maintain a healthy work-life balance, make time for family and friends and activities you enjoy
  • exercise regularly to help boost your energy levels and improve stamina
  • maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy and getting enough sleep
  • learn to say ‘no’ so you don’t over commit yourself
  • plan events ahead of time, so you know what’s coming up
  • find ways to relax and unwind, such as meditation, listening to music or incorporating breathing techniques into your daily routine
  • get support when you need it, talk to someone and ask for help.

Find more tips in the video below.

Managing stress

Supporting employees through stressful times

Paying attention to your employee’s stress levels is vital, you need to remember everyone handles stress differently. Here are some way you can support stressed staff and create a safe workplace:

  • provide a space where your employees can take a rest or break
  • encourage the use of personal leave when they need it
  • make sure your workplace is designed correctly to allow sunlight and fresh air
  • make sure your employees know where they can get support
  • encourage flexible working arrangements
  • have a culture of open communication and have regular check-ins with your staff.

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