Q: Startups are tough, whether you work for one or work on one. What's your favorite strategy to manage stress while in the office?
The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Remove Distractions
For me, stress builds up quickly when I'm not accomplishing as much as I should or could. That usually means I'm getting distracted by emails, phone calls, unnecessary meetings, or in-office visits. Luckily, this can be somewhat controlled if you just remove the distractions when you sit down to accomplish a task. Productivity will improve and as a result stress levels will tend to fall.
- Phil Frost, Main Street ROI
2. Take a Mental Break
When I'm having a rough day in the office and need to de-stress, but don't have time to run to the gym or take a long walk, I will let myself zone out for 20 to 30 minutes while watching a quick TV episode on my computer or listening to music before getting back to work. Taking a mental break helps me relax and re-focus so that I can deal with stress and finish the rest of my work for the day.
- Lauren Fairbanks, Stunt & Gimmick's
Everyone talks about closing your eyes, breathing deeply, going for a walk, etc. But in my experience, that just lets my mind wander back to the stressful subject/task. In times of high stress at our office, someone usually fires off a few trivia questions to the rest of us. It forces us to shift gears and use a different part of our brains. When we're done, we feel relaxed and more creative.
- Matt Peters, Pandemic Labs
4. Crank Up the Music
When times get stressful, you need to move and let loose for at least 3 minutes. I love finding new music on Pandora or YouTube that gets me pumped up and allows me to forget about the to-do list for a few minutes.
5. Meditation and Yoga
Meditation and yoga may sound like the antithesis of the entrepreneurial lifestyle (and a bit corny), but they’re actually complementary. You don’t need to tie yourself up into knots (risking office embarrassment and a trip to the ER!) to reap the rewards of this practice. Even just standing in mountain pose — evenly balanced, eyes closed, steady breath — can help reduce stress tremendously.
- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
A couple of pages of writing always does wonders to create perspective and clear my head. Plus, the ability to decompress in this way only requires pen and pad which can be found almost anywhere.
- Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group
7. Standing Desks
All our team members have the option to work on a GeekDesk, a workstation that has the ability to change height for sitting or standing workers. Movement and change of position combat stress and break up the tension of a long work day.
- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
8. Breathe Deeply
9. Schedule Your Breaks
My favorite strategy to manage stress is to schedule breaks and take them. As a small business owner, it may seem effective to go at it 100% all day long, but this is no strategy for long-term success. Schedule breaks, at least three per day, and commit to taking them. As an entrepreneur, you have full ability to work 15 hours per day, but in the long term, you aren’t doing anyone any good.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
10. Create Small Distractions
While big distractions should be removed from the workplace, taking a small break every so often is important. It's easy to get caught up and forget to ever look away from the computer monitor, so having a few small built in distractions to the day can be beneficial. Even something as small as cranking up the
music and playing some air guitar together can make a huge difference in stress levels.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
11. Monday Hot Yoga
12. Get Out of the Office
Startups often work 15-hour days, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll grow tired of the people around you. Work from the park on nice days, or answer emails from a coffee shop. Be especially careful during winter months, when it’s possible to never see daylight.
- Matt Wilson, Under30Media