Last week, I realized that the arrival of the new year, and all of the goal setting and aspirations that came with it, came with a lot of stress for me. I made some big decisions, set some big goals and immediately started to lay out the steps for accomplishing them. Then I hit a wall.
I got literally one E-mail that wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine and it (stupidly) threw me into a funk where I started playing the comparison game, questioning the tone in other E-mails, comments and such. Then, I fell down the Instagram rabbit hole and had convinced myself that I sucked at all of it, no one liked me and I should probably just give up. Dramatic much? Yeah, I think so too.
I know these little funks happen to all of us and I hate it when they do. I had coffee the next afternoon with my girlfriend Leslie, who is a fellow small business owner, and we chatted about it. As it turned out, we had both been feeling some of this lately and just us getting together and talking, helped us both feel better and we left inspired and ready to get back to being our kick-ass, girl boss selves.
I’ll be honest and tell you that sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing to run a business solo. You have a lot of work and self-imposed pressure, and you do spend a lot of time alone. A lot of my communications are digital, leaving room for tone interpretation, as well as just time by yourself, and sometimes that isn’t the best thing. For the blog, I also play in a space that’s highly competitive and there’s a lot of comparison that happens out there. I try my best to ignore it but sometimes it gets to me. I’ve been doing this a long time and, while it’s never been my full-time gig, I get discouraged when it isn’t as successful as I’d like for it to be.
So how do I deal with it when I get stressed out or down? These are the three things I try to do:
As I mentioned, that little coffee meeting last week was a HUGE help to my stressful little funk. Being behind your computer is good, but being in the real world is probably a little bit better. I always feel good after a little coffee date like that or getting out to shoot photos with my photographer, Ashley, or even after a client meeting. I’ll often leave any of those things with a big to do list, inspired thoughts or just extra motivation and it gets me going again.
I need to be better about leaving the house and maybe working at a coffee shop or something for a few hours a week. I may still be working alone but I’ll see other people, and it won’t be my house where I may be tempted to do laundry between E-mails or whatnot.
Movement and fitness have been huge for me in reducing stress. Even if I have a full workload, I will pause and take a 20 minute break and hop on my bike. A quick little ride with some hip hop or Y2K pop will often easily boost my mood and get me re-focused.
I also notice I’m less stressed when I’m consistently working out anyway. That outlet is just really helpful for me and, last week, when I was feeling funky, I had been sick for a few days and wasn’t doing my normal workout routine. I’m sure that didn’t help. But I also think that for me this is the self-care I need to be really happy and at my best.
Both of my businesses are SO heavily based in digital that I find myself on social media way too much. And that leads to that comparison game I mentioned, and leads to some negativity. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a little competition. I get fired up and I want to be better and work harder, but that’s where I want it to end. So when the stress gets to me, I just get my work done, post for myself, the clients I need to and then I back away and unplug.
Overall my biggest advice to myself, and anyone else who is dealing with stress and pressure in their lives is to just stop for a second and take a deep breath or a step back. I know that once I give myself a few minutes to relax, clear my head or just to walk away from a problem, I can come back and handle it. I also notice that it’s the little things that tend to cause the most stress, so try not to sweat the small stuff, look at the big picture and think positively and confidently.