Running a fast-growing company can be difficult; the buck stops with you and, as well as the ‘big picture’ strategic and leadership work, you’re often dealing with issues and fighting fires. You have to delegate and put your trust in other people and, invariably, some of them let you down, which only adds to the load and your individual stress levels. Over the past decade, I have developed the following five coping techniques that help me to deal with and handle pressure.
You will have no doubt heard of the virtues of this as a stress reliever, but it really does work for me! No matter how busy I get, I train four days a week – twice with a personal trainer, and twice doing kickboxing at a local gym. Committing to a regular routine and time has allowed me to create a positive habit around it and the exercise itself, especially the kickboxing, is a great physical way to release stress and tension. In fact, I feel so strongly about the positive impact this has that, at Pure SEO, we offer a weekly kickboxing session to any staff that want to attend, an initiative that’s getting increasingly popular.
As an entrepreneur, I find it very hard to turn off my mind; it’s always thinking about strategy, growth and other work-related issues. Combining that with two young children and their demands, I find my head is constantly working. Having a massage is one of the few times when I can just switch off and relax. It may take me a while, but eventually the physical relaxation slows my head down too. The other thing I’m keen to try, but haven’t yet, is a flotation tank.
With a mind that’s always turning things over, it’s not uncommon for me to wake up in the early hours with a new issue to solve, or the solution to something that’s been troubling me. Having a pen and paper by my bed allows me to note down the thoughts I have to revisit the next day. Knowing I’ve captured them means I can stop turning them over and don’t have to worry about losing them, which means I can relax again and get some more rest. Writing them is also far preferable to starting to engage with my phone at the time – both for the screen light and the risk of getting sucked into looking at something else while I’m there.
4. Get over it
Unfortunately, in business, I’ve had many incidents where people have not behaved in what I perceive to be an ethical manner – most recently a former business partner. My best advice here is to accept it and learn from it, as opposed to holding on and carrying it around with you. It usually takes me about 24 hours, but after that time I’m able to focus on the positive things in my life and put the negative thing that’s happened behind me.
5. Have fun
There’s no doubt that life can be stressful; with a young family and a growing business it can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s important to remember to have fun – in whatever form you find that. I recently went on a business trip to Buenos Aires where we learnt a lot, but also had a lot of fun – taking a helicopter over Iguazu Falls, cycling the city and hanging out with other awesome, like-minded people.
These coping mechanisms help me maintain a healthy balance between being ‘constantly on’ and doing things just for me. I know a surprising large number of entrepreneurs that have battled with mental health issues brought on by the stress and constant demands of their profession – using these tactics helps ensure I am not one of them.