There is so much cliche nonsense that I could add to this article, you only need to try all the weird and wonderful stress relief techniques pushed by social media influencers. Hopefully, you will avoid the same pitfalls I missed.
So this is some of the random things and practical stress relief tips that I tried and what the outcome was for me.
Tip №1: Proper breathing techniques and outdoor walks
If you’ve read my article about taking your pet to work, you will see in full how I managed this and how I managed to work around 18 hours per day and still keep my pet on his regular schedule. But by using this time to take time out in the middle of the day to stop and take a breather was incredibly beneficial.
By going out with the dog without my phone I was able to focus on playing with my dog in the park to switch off but also to stop and think. This time in the fresh air did help as I would be able to change my surroundings, gain a fresh perspective on any potential situation and ultimately become more productive. We all know that when your angry going for a walk can help you calm down, well why can’t it do the same when you stressed as an entrepreneur?
Tip №2: Stress Relief Through Sports Training
I have long detested going to the gym even before I launched the business. However living in London social convention dictates that as a young man, I had too. What else were you supposed to talk to people about in the canteen! Going to the gym for me has never been past time, a skinny little guy looking lost amongst the built and toned gym fit guys and gals staring and hitting on each other.
Again we all know that exercise is essential in various forms, so there’s no need for me to have to explain this. I found that despite the fact that I was not particularly interested in attending and probably attended for the wrong reasons, running on the treadmill did actually help. I would always start a workout with 12 minutes of running at various speeds. In the past, I have enjoyed running in the park, but I tried this and I couldn’t switch off. I’m not sure why, but somehow the treadmill did help.
I can only assume that the reason for this is that I was in a confined space where I felt very aware that there was the possibility that people were watching and I had to perform. This was the same reason why it took me slightly longer to do something with my weaknesses as I didn’t want my customers or competitors to see what I wasn’t good at. That same feeling helped me push myself further whilst eyes were on me. There was also then the feeling after finishing the 12 minutes I would feel good about myself as I had actually managed to complete the full session and those feelings then helped me feel emboldened to push harder. If you are losing track of my thought process here, I am of course talking about both the sessions in the gym and my performance as a small business owner.
Tip №3: Stress relief through mind training and yoga
I am not good at yoga! Let me paint a picture of what it was like when I tried this, imagine a 95-year-old man fully fitted with new joints trying to play Twister! Well, that’s what I was I was like, not even a good image. Sweating and farting all over the place, whilst trying to bend into what for me was the most unnatural of positions and quite simply falling over. I am not flexible and I was not a good student.
For some, yoga, or pilates, does benefit them. The concentration required to follow the instructor and hold your poses is intense and, I am not ashamed to admit, impressive. I can imagine that if you are looking to try and switch off and relieve some stress and tension that for some yoga really will work out.
I did try this and this didn’t work out well for me. Eventually after 4 classes I just completely gave up. But part of the reason I mention this here is that normally in my life I would never have given this a chance at all. However, even though it didn’t work for me long term, the 4 hours I spent trying this did help me to switch off and I did end up with a level of empowerment after trying this as I did something different. I may not be flexible, but it did teach me that I need to find that one thing for me that I can do and that I will enjoy as it did help me understand the need to distance and focus my mind.
If you are like me and you like to try and think outside the box, this did that as the classes I attended were in the afternoon. This fitted into my schedule and allowed me to make the time to try. Sometimes I do wonder, what would have happened if I continued to try, and continue to be un-flexible?
Tip №4: Socializing as a tension relief tip
Friends are always incredible was to try and take your mind off things. Catching up with their lives, sitting in the pub and having a moan or heading out for tequila shots and dancing, it doesn’t matter how you spend your time with your friends it does help.
For me however, I always had my friends asking about how I was doing, where the business was going and what events I’d done and which celebrities I’d met this week. If you’ve had a job in the past, you will all know how much the staff canteen or gossiping by the water cooler helps to relieve some built-up tension, but at the beginning of my entrepreneurial life I didn’t have this luxury, so socializing was my water cooler moment.
It was not just the stress relief of venting that I gained from this, I would also use my friends as my focus group. As many of my friends came into my life through going to the pub, they also had very different opinions and I could easily get some very honest thoughts from people that I trusted and knew that if they said I don’t think that’s a good idea for whatever reason, then I respected that.
Drinking as a negative instant stress relief tips
Let me give you quite possibly the best piece of advice that I possibly can, this is not a method for stress relief! Let’s not forget that I owned a wine business with an abundance of wine and various spirits around all the time. With this I am not just talking about stock, I’m also talking about the various samples that I would receive daily from suppliers and directly from the vineyards, as well as samples bottles that were open for customers to try.
In the very beginning of the business, I had a special sales tactic to help sell wines in the shop, if I am drinking my wine, people will see that I love and believe in my product and that they should trust any assistance when recommending something to buy. So everyday I would be enjoying a glass or two throughout the day, then also topping up with the various samples that I would partake with potential customers. You may think that this is possibly one of the awesome perks of the job, but consider the legal licensing implications of consuming too much?
So some days I would be pickled by the end of the day. Even if you spit the wine out when sampling, the alcohol is still in your mouth and being absorbed into your bloodstream. One of the things that I ended up detesting attending was supplier tastings. You wander around a room, sampling up to or over 100 different wines, including bubbly. You end up chatting with colleagues, suppliers, potential suppliers and competitors and you will never spit out every sample you have thrust upon you. This is obviously not a bad thing, what made me hate them, was that in order to attend events like these, I would need to do so at around 10 am in the morning. Normally when people are hard at work and enjoying coffee, which I so desperately wanted to do, instead I had a wine glass in my hand wandering around the tables like Oliver Twist asking for more.
I don’t mean to be a condescending asshole here, we all know and may have seen the problems and destruction that alcohol can bring. So let me say this before I launched my business, I did enjoy a drink casually with friends or at home with dinner. After I sold the business, I did struggle with my relationship with alcohol and trying to get back to the sensible relationship I had previously was not easy.
My advice, don’t abstain from drinking as the hangover will destroy you and leave you incredibly unproductive, we all know that. Continue with whatever relationship you have if you can and quite simply, you know your limits so be sensible and think about your business as well as yourself.