You’ve probably been taught your entire life to have goals and ambitions. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” they asked. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” they often wonder. Being a go-getter is an admirable trait and a stepping stone to success, but being under constant stress could do more harm than good.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a busy professional that’s committed to your career, take some steps to reduce stress and have playtime. Doing so will help you keep an eye on the prize.
All work and no play can make you feel overwhelmed with responsibilities. Being stressed and overworked can actually hinder your progress and make you less productive. It’s a good idea to take a step back and reassess your hard work.
Everyone deserves to let loose every now and then.
You don’t need to work seven days a week. You can take off one day or two. If you run a business that’s open every day of the week, consider closing shop for one day, or let someone else take over once a week.
If you work for an employer, take advantage of the days off that they give you. Go camping or to the beach. Host a dinner or BBQ with friends. Visit your nearest relatives. Meet your friend’s new baby. Take your dog on an adventure. Take your significant other on a date.
Another way to reduce stress and increase productivity is to hire freelancers to help you run your business. For instance, designing your own website can be a labor-intensive process, and you may not have the necessary skills to get the job done.
So consider hiring a web developer instead to create your site from scratch. When reviewing candidates, you should look for someone who’s skilled in HTML coding and relies on a few good developer tools to do the job well.
Reduce stress by practicing techniques that relax you. Meditation can help with breathing, focus, and mental clarity. Massages loosen up muscles, knots, and stiffness. Baths cleanse your mind as well as your body. Swimming has the benefit of low-impact physical exercise and water healing. Listening to music is relaxing and emotionally stirring. Comedy shows bring out the laughter that comes from the gut, but spending time with people you can laugh with is even better.
Find a healthy outlet to manage work-related stress. You can let off steam through exercise, which can create a natural feeling of euphoria, or change up your diet by feeding your body more nutrients. Healthy outlets for stress relief are important because many adults turn to negative coping strategies like alcohol or drugs when they don’t have positive ones. If you find yourself slipping into negative habits, find positive substitutions immediately. Go for a run instead of happy hour. Go for a hike instead of Sunday brunch. Visit your friends and family who are sober instead of meeting your party buddies at the bar.
Often, work-related stress comes from managing finances, and that’s especially true for people who own small businesses. One way to cut down on your overhead is to run your business out of your home, as opposed to a traditional office space. With the help of a handyman, you can put together a functional workspace in an unused part of your home — and often at a fraction of the monthly cost to rent space somewhere else!
Sometimes it helps to just talk to someone. We all have stresses in life that we bottle up. Grab a trusted friend that you can vent to, or commiserate with someone who understands your pain because they’re in a similar situation. However, avoid gossiping with your coworkers about other people at work. Speaking negatively about others can harm your reputation and people’s trust in you.
A confidant will not only allow you to release the stressful thoughts in your head, but they can also help give you perspective as your sounding board. That perspective might be the match that lights a fire to get your career off the ground.
As a busy, career-oriented professional, it’s understandable that you’d want to dedicate all your time to work. Success and hard work are important to you, after all. They might even define you. But if you want to hit the ground running and achieve your goals, it helps to hit the brakes and re-enter with a fresh set of wheels. Just like weight loss can plateau after consistent dieting, so can a career on a fast track without any breaks.
Julie Morris is a guest writer participating with Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub