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Written by
Katy Ratican
17 Jan 2022
4 minutes

Managing stress as a startup founder: avoid that dreaded burnout

Everything startup founders should know about recognising and managing stress when building their business
Managing stress as a startup founder

Stress is another name for setting up a business. That’s because the world of startups is a world of uncertainty. There’s no way to avoid it, even if you have started businesses before. But there are proven ways to manage stress as a startup founder.

Most founders don’t discuss the effects of stress because the startup ecosystem is all about valuation, venture capital, scaling and productivity. But setting up a business is also about having to walk alone in the face of extreme challenges.

That would undoubtedly create stress for any founder. Here’s how you can manage it as an entrepreneur and ensure that it doesn’t affect your professional or personal lives.

How to manage stress as a startup founder

1. Know when you're stressed

The first step is to realise when you’re stressed. This might seem easy but quite often people confuse being stressed with being exhausted. The other reason entrepreneurs don’t talk about stress is because they worry that it might make them look weak or incapable.

But if you don’t know when you get stressed, you might inadvertently pass it on to your colleagues and business partners. So, the next time you feel worried or anxious, acknowledge that it’s stress. Labelling it will go a long way in managing it.

2. Identify the stressors

While there are several mobile-friendly apps for small businesses, whether it’s for project management or communication, there isn’t a credible app for identifying stressors.

This means that you’ll have to do it yourself. Is it the fact that you’re always busy that’s stressing you out? The solution is to not pack your day or week with activities. Is it the constant to and fro calls and emails? Batch your emails and calls and check them only once every couple of hours.

3. Spend some time alone

Running from meeting to meeting and jumping from task to task can not just exhaust you but also give you stress. The cure to that is to spend some time with yourself. Before the start of each day, take twenty minutes to reorganise, refresh and ready yourself. Identify the important tasks for the day and place faith in yourself and your team.

Similarly, at the end of the day, take some time to intentionally wind down. Appreciate what you achieved that day even if there were no spectacular victories. Start celebrating small wins and you’ll feel more positive and confident.

4. Focus on your health

No, it can’t wait until you begin to scale your startup or get the next round of funds. You should consciously focus on your health since that will determine your physical, mental and emotional energy levels. There are three important components to this. The first is your diet. You should restrict your junk food and sugar intake and opt for healthy meals.

The second is to routinely exercise. If you can’t find time to go to the gym, start exercising at home or even in the office. The third aspect is meditation. It isn’t complicated and it will only take 10 to 20 minutes a day.

5. Travel

If there’s an antidote to the stress of modern life, it’s travel. With social distancing in place, this might seem like a non-starter. But you don’t have to travel abroad to take a meaningful break. You can find a spot outside your city or a secluded beach not far away from where you live.

You will certainly be busy setting up a business. So, you’ll have to plan and book your tickets in advance which will force you to take the holiday. Remember that several short breaks can be more restorative than one big break.

In short

Setting up a business can be a physical, mental and emotional rollercoaster even for seasoned professionals. But it becomes easier once you consciously start managing your stress.

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