If you are freelancer, consultant, or run a home-based business, the art of managing self-employment stress is a skill that you must learn to maintain your health…and your business! Stress is a killer. A killer of health, relationships, and business. A multitude of physical and emotional health problems including heart disease, chronic headaches, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure and others are linked to stress.
What is “Stress”?
According to the Centre for Studies on Human Stress, the term “stress“, as is it used to refer to human physiological or emotional strain, was coined in the 1920s by Canadian-Hungarian Dr. Hans Selye who borrowed the term from physics. Selye noticed that regardless of the malady his hospitalized patients suffered from, they all had the “look” of ill health in common. He theorized a universal human reaction to stress was at play – one that he called “General Adaptation Syndrome” which could result in disease as the body succumbed to prolonged or chronic stress. Now, scientists know that chronic stress can lead to an overexposure of “cortisol”, an important stress hormone, that regulates the body in times of stress. Chronic stress, can make the fight-or-flight switch become stuck in the “on” position which can cause the variety of stress-related illnesses listed above.
3 Easy Ways to Reduce Self-Employment Stress
For self-employed people, coping with stress may be a challenge because of demands on your time. Ironically, it’s the very lack of time that may be causing your stress reaction. Faced with the demands of running your own business, you may procrastinate when it comes to taking care of your own physical and mental health. What if doing so also helped your business? It does! There are some basic tools you can use that will help you alleviate much of the work-related stress you experience, work more efficiently and effectively, and, plan for your business’s continued success.
1) Increase work efficiency
Being organized is at the heart of work efficiency, and, efficiency, wins you back some of your time, so you can better take care of yourself and your family. One way to organize yourself is to have a system in place for your daily tasks. The system could be spreadsheet-based, but, these days, it is often software or cloud-based software. From email management, time-management to invoicing and cloud accounting, software can keep you organized, efficient, and save a boat load of time!
Resources to help increase efficiency and keep you organized.
- “31 of the Best Cloud-Based Apps for Micro-Businesses and Freelancers“.
- “Time-Management Tips for Freelancers“.
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2) Exercise a little every day. No-equipment, no-hassle workouts make it easier
If you are like many self-employed people, the idea of stopping what you’re doing and going to the gym during the day provokes anxiety. You imagine a couple of hours of your time devoted to activity you may see as interfering with your work schedule, and like many, after a long day the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. You are not alone, although exercise doesn’t have to mean gear, a gym membership or a bite out of your busy schedule. Find an exercise routine that you can do in your home office. Use resistance bands, consider a mini-stepper, or commit to a routine of good old-fashioned calisthenics.
Fitness resources for self-employed people
- Equipment-free workouts in 15 minutes or less from FitnessBurner.com.
- 5BX and XBX 11-minute workout
http://fit450.com has published the 5BX program for men, which was developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 1950s. It’s comprised of 5 levels (view a chart to see which level you should start at) and 5 exercises (4 calisthenics exercises and 1 cardio exercise). The XBX program for women is based on the 5BX program. These lo-fi fitness routines take care of the basics. There are many variations on the 5BX. View 5BX demos on YouTube.
- The Scientific 7-Minute Workout (as published by the New York Times)
What’s that you say? Don’t have time for an 11-minute 5BX workout? Check out this 7-minute no-equipment workout published on the New York Times blog. This “High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight” workout was first published in American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal. The only “equipment” needed is your body weight, a sturdy chair and a wall.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only. Always consult your doctor before trying any fitness program.
While it may seem obvious, breath is life! When you are stressed, your heart rate increases and you may breathe rapidly, or, hold your breath altogether. In the NPR article “Just Breathe“, Esther Sternberg, physician, researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and author of books on stress, says “rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It’s part of the ‘fight or flight’ response – the part activated by stress. In contrast, slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction – the one that calms us down”.
Yoga breathing or pranayama teaches exercises to control the breath. “Pranayama” is a Sanskrit word meaning “breath control” (“prana” means “breath” and “ayama” means “control”). Learning a few basic breathing techniques can help you counteract the effects of stress, and even initiate a relaxation response to stress.
Breathing exercises for freelancers
- Pranayama exercises from Yoga Journal.
- “6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10-Minutes or Less” from Time.com.
- “3 Effective Anxiety Breathing Exercises” from CalmClinic.com.
Self-Employed? How Do You Deal with Stress?
We hope you enjoyed these quick tips on managing self-employment stress. How do you deal with stress? Let us know in the comments below 😉