Time for a change! 5 ways to squash your stress


Are you normal? For your sake, I hope not.

“Normal” entails—at least in America—feeling overwhelmed, under-appreciated, tired, and stressed out.  And while that may be the norm, that doesn’t mean it’s natural, and it’s certainly nothing that most of us aspire to.

Stress and success don't mix.If you’re one of the many entrepreneurs feeling the stress of modern living, you owe it to yourself and your business to deal with that stress before it fries your brain and derails all your good efforts. If you haven’t applied these techniques recently or at all, now’s the time to do it.

Does this entail doing things differently? Yes. Are the changes likely to feel somewhat uncomfortable and awkward? Probably. Is improved health and increased productivity worth it? Absolutely.
1. Punch a pillow. Hard.

I really love this one. It lets you get rid of those built-up stress hormones without harming yourself or others. (The pillow typically doesn’t care what you do to it.) Plus, you get a little bit of an upper-body workout by doing this. What’s not to love?

2. Consciously unplug and relax before bed.

Between the information flow and the bright screen, your computer is NOT a good stress-management friend to you. Experiment with shutting down your computer one hour before you head for bed, so as to cut down on the mental and physical stimuli you’re bombarded with.

A book can be an excellent way to wind down prior to your rest-and-recharge bed time, IF said book has no redeeming social value whatsoever. You don’t want to stimulate your brain with a book on marketing, or economics, or climate change! Instead, read something strictly for fun, something that lets your busy business brain take a break. I find that science fiction/fantasy books work well for me.

3. Breathe. Use a timer or a sticky note to remind yourself to do so, if necessary.

It’s amazing what a lousy job most of us do when it comes to breathing. If you’re feeling stressed, you tend to breathe more quickly and shallowly, which actually boosts your stress hormones, which causes you to breathe more quickly and shallowly…

Stop the madness!

Until deeper, healthier breathing becomes a habit, you may very well benefit from reminders to breathe properly. You can set a timer to go off every 30 minutes, at which point you can consciously relax and re-oxygenate your body with slow, deliberate breaths: inhale to a count of four, exhale to a count of four, then repeat four times. If you prefer, you can post a sticky note on your monitor, with a simple reminder to “BREATHE!”


Stress and success don’t mix.


4. Turn on some severely ass-kicking music and dance like crazy.

In the World According To Kathleen, there’s nothing like a song with a heavy bass beat to get you moving and working off some stress. If you don’t already have a play-list of what I call “energy music”, it’s easy to create one. I figure paying 99 cents on Amazon for an energizing song is a great investment in maintaining sanity and productivity. (Just be careful not to blow out your speakers like I did once.)

5. Say “no” more often.

Yup, I saved the biggest and baddest for last. This is definitely one of those easier-said-than-done recommendations—and one of the most powerful.

Too many of us feel like it’s not okay say “no”—not to prospects, clients, partners, friends, or family members. Yet trying to make everyone happy ultimately takes a huge toll on your health (mental, physical, and emotional), confidence, self-esteem, and outcomes. It’s time to stop paying that price.

It’s clear that some situations are more significant than others, so start practicing “no” when it’s less intimidating: No, you don’t want to go bowling tonight; no, you don’t want the extended warranty; no, you don’t want fries with that.

As you become more comfortable with this small but mighty word, you’ll start noticing how good it feels to set boundaries by saying “no”, and you’ll be more confident about tackling the more significant opportunities: No, you’re not willing to re-arrange your entire schedule for one client; no, you’re not going to “throw in”, at no charge, extra services that the client did not contract for; no, you’re not going to discount your price unless you also “discount” the scope of services you provide.

If you want extra tools for setting guilt-free boundaries, check out Manuel Smith’s classic book, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty.


What are some situations in which you successfully and appropriately said “no”? How did setting that boundary improve your results? What did it do for your stress level?

Or does it feel like you’re maxed out on stress, still at a point where “saying ‘no’” is more fantasy than reality? Are you struggling to say “no” to some good opportunities so you can say “yes” to better ones? Are you a little wild-eyed trying to figure out which is which?

Chances are good I can help.

One reason my clients get such good results is that they learn a process they can reliably use to decide which activities rate a “yes”, which deserve a “no”, and which earn a “not yet.”  Then we map out a step-by-baby-step action plan that will make those yes decisions a reality.  And then I hold them accountable for making the little changes that will eventually lead them to fantastic outcomes.

Does that sound amazing? Then maybe we should figure out if we can create that type of result for you. The easiest way to do that is through a 30- to 40-minute get-acquainted call. Once we have a chance to ask each other some questions, we’ll both be confident about whether we should say yes or no to working together.

Are you ready to see if we can create plans that will pull the plug on your stress? Then call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “STRESS!” in the subject line; we’ll set up our get-acquainted call and see what makes sense for both of us.

(By the way, thanks to topgold for posting the eggs in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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