I’m not happy with my current situation.

I’ve always been able to cope with stress well but in the recent weeks it’s been harder than ever before. The stress of our job recently put my business partner in hospital, the mixture of stress, illness and being generally run down had taken it’s toll on her. And now it’s taking it’s toll on me.

I know I’m stressed because I can’t sleep. I can’t switch my brain off.
I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a month now.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the fastfoward 2017 conference, there was a really enlightening panel about maintaining mental health and managing stress. It was aimed at the music industry but a lot of the points were really relevant to us in the entrepreneurial world.

One of the panel told an anecdote about how he had an anxiety attack in the office at work, and the rest of the panel nodded and mentioned that they had all been there. You would think that issues like this would be few and far between but it could happen to any of us.
The panel reminded me that we’re all human and we all need help sometimes.
I am very fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team that I can lean on in the coming weeks as we head toward some tight deadlines. Once this stressful period is over, I think I’m going to take a week off.

To clear my head. To forget work.

When things aren’t working, the normal course of action is to turn it off, wait and then turn it back on again. I guess, sometimes, our minds need to turn off too.

A couple of other actions I’ve taken to reduce stress:

  • Not answering emails immediately, using boomerang on emails that can wait
  • Taking a break from social media – Deleting Facebook, Twitter, Instagram from my phone and turning off all notifications for the few apps i’ve kept.
  • Learning to say no to thing I don’t want to do or I don’t think will bring value
  • Going to the gym
  • Being honest with myself about my situation
  • Writing this.
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7 Comments

  1. Clearly you are already aware of this one – but surround yourself with capable, like-minded individuals who can spread the load. Focus on your business purpose, and don’t be afraid of turning away things that do not move you toward this goal. Stress should never be underestimated. Stay aware, and stay well. Good luck.

  2. Here’s my unsolicited advice;

    Your job is not your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re running your own business, or the lowest lowly employee in some massive multinational, working yourself to the point of sickness is a recipe for disaster. This is especially true if you are responsible for other people, because their livelihoods rely on you being able to operate to the best of your abilities. It’s far easier to work for someone who is doing 60% of a job at 100%, than 90% of a job at 50%, therefore one of the most important things you can get good at as a leader, is effective delegation. It sounds easy to hand work off to others, but it really isn’t – having trust in your colleagues to get the job done is one of the most challenging soft skills to develop. I’ve also found that people who have a job that they “love”, will suffer from this issue exactly the same, if not more, than people who have a job that they just tolerate in order to pay the bills, because they feel a higher obligation to be “on it” constantly, because it seems implausible that a job they love would be causing them harm.

    The second thing I would say is that, from personal experience, it’s a very slippery slope from unchecked “general deadline stress” to full blown anxiety attacks. It entirely depends on the individual of course, but it seems that men generally (unfortunately) don’t put much stock in anxiety as a mental health issue, as there tends to be more of a “suck it up and get on with it” attitude towards such things. However, it can be completely crippling. I had anxiety-related mental health problems for 3 years, and even when I was receiving counselling for it, I was probably having 2-3 attacks per week at worst, which could be about anything at all, work related or not. That also has a pretty big impact on your personal relationships, so my biggest piece of advice for that would be if you start feeling overwhelmed, identifying when you need help as early as possible is the most important thing.

    Finally, I would say you’re probably doing the right thing with social media. We’re all so interconnected now it’s easy to take work home with us without meaning to. I would also try something like meditation after work (or even during work). It sounds kinda cheesy, but just sitting quietly for a few minutes every day just to clear your head does wonders for some people.

      1. Agreed, delegation is often terrifying when you start out, but it is such a vital thing to embrace, especially in a growing business. This is what helps develop a healthy, aligned culture. Having personally gone from founder / employee #2 to 2500 people, it was one of the most valuable lessons I think I learned. Next time I’m in Southampton (I’m based on Dorchester), I’ll give you a shout to see if you are around for a coffee and a braindump !

  3. Go climb a mountain and swim in the sea or go and camp under the stars, it will do you the world of good!
    Get better guys, you’ll come back stronger, BIG HUGS!!
    M 🙂

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