Stressed out business owners

Okay. Take a deep breath, sit down quietly with a cuppa and relax.

Now, think about your last holiday. Was it two days over Christmas? I have discussed in previous columns the reluctance (or inability) of small business owners to take significant time away from their businesses. It really is an epidemic!

I recently had to counsel one of my team members about the virtues of annual leave - and the therapeutic benefits attached to totally switching off. The danger for workaholics is that they become jaded, stressed and generally not as productive as they could be.

Worst case scenario, they become cranky and impossible to work with! This applies equally whether you are the owner or the employee. The ripple effect on the rest of your team cannot be underestimated. At the very least, the stressed-out team member will need to rely on the calming influence of more balanced team members - and this also affects those people's productivity.

It is interesting to note that business owners tend to be blissfully unaware of their own stress levels and how this impacts their employees. As a recent study found, self-employed people tend to be more satisfied with their position, but in fact are far more stressed than their employees. Go figure!

Of course, the ultimate result is medical conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and ulcers. So, what to do about it?

Now I know some business owners who stress more when they are away from their business then they could possibly stress while physically there. This is a different problem, and they need different help!

For those of us who can be saved, could I suggest the following?

1. Take a holiday.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the world will not end without you. Think how many people went on holiday on December 21 last year...and here we are in February!

2. Disconnect.
These days it is far easier to access emails, mobile phones and any other form of communication with the office - but just stop. They all have on/off switches, so use them!

To combine these two points, a holiday in middle Africa is suggested. Try finding an iPhone charger there!

3. Exercise.
I've heard that exercise is a great way to relieve stress as well as to burn calories. Either way, your body will thank you, and your staff might as well!

4. Investigate relaxation techniques.
Everyone unwinds differently, so find out what works for you and then do it regularly! Whether this is yoga, meditation, deep breathing or a cold beverage and the TV - you need to know your best solution.

Now that we are well and truly into 2013, make sure that you maintain your sanity by taking some time to unwind. You deserve it!

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