Success books like “Think and Grow Rich,” tell us to think positively and eschew negative thoughts. The book tells us to believe and not fear…but if one has fears…then what? As successful people each of us needs to learn to overcome stress or minimize stress so we have lots of good energy to keep growing our success.
I’m not a psychologist and I’m not going to tell you what to do with your bad feelings. But I’ll tell you how I live with mine. I release them into a journal…or I run or garden or all three.
I’ve honed a set of self-care skills over the years. I’ve been an artist all my life and a classroom teacher for several years. I’ve been a parent for over 10 years and a small businessperson for the last 7 years. I tell you this so you know I don’t avoid stress.
As small business people we are putting out a lot of energy, meeting new people, keeping in touch with people, working in our business and coming up with new ideas. Businesses don’t grow unless we try new things and get out the comfort zone etc. However, to get out of the comfort zone we have to have energy. If we don’t have ways to eschew depletion and fill ourselves up…our energy will lag and we will become sick or lose our spark.
Here’s my list of stress busting, rejuvenating practices and some notes about my experience with each:
Journaling: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is an excellent resource about discovering or recovering your creative self. One practice she describes in detail is called “daily pages” in which you write 3 stream of consciousness pages without pausing or editing. I’ve found that this practice helps me get out my negative feelings and solve problems rapidly. Any “problem” grows wearisome fast…and I therefore solve it.
Exercise: special mention of yoga and tai chi: To state the obvious, exercise is essential to health. Scientifically, we know that exercise releases adrenaline, which makes us feel up. Usually people focus on how exercise keeps weight down or makes us feel good. However, I believe the benefits of exercise go deeper much than this to regulate our hormones and maintain the health of all the “systems” of the body.
If aerobic exercise releases adrenaline and makes us feel up, yoga and tia chi focus on our breathing and stretching the spine, which releases stress and calms the mind and body.
Time alone: This is a key to health that hasn’t always been obvious to me. Time alone doing something I enjoy is rejuvenating and also essential. Try a walk, a trip to the bead, hardware, library or antique store. Or doing some work with your hands like baking, woodworking, knitting etc. An hour or two once a week makes a huge difference.
Time with friends: Make time for friendship and all kinds of connections. As a young parent I saw with fresh eyes how interdependent we are. We need other people…both as parents and as business people we need support. We need others to succeed. We need clients and referrals to clients to succeed and mentors to really fly.
Prayer and meditation: I make use of these too. Two years ago I prayed a lot because several friends were ill at the same time. I felt helpless and negative. I wrote out a prayer and memorized it so that when I started to worry I knew exactly what I was going to substitute in its place and switch gears. It made a huge difference to my energy and outlook to pray for healing, peace and strength and kept me going.
Also, one can learn religious or non-religious meditation. I learned a meditation recently that simply has you focus on breathing in and breathing out while counting to 10. Each # is an in or an out breath. It’s not so easy to focus the mind, but with practice one gets better at focusing on breath.
Reading for Diversion and Relaxation: As you may know if you’ve read my newsletter, I read a lot. I was a bookworm as a child. But the last few years I’ve moved from reading for pleasure to reading for information about business, success and kids. I rediscovered that reading for pleasure is very relaxing. Read books that are humorous, entertaining or transport you to another world.
By using my downtime to rejuvenate and building it into my week, I’m able to care for my family, run a business with my partner, be a leader in two networking groups and pursue my artwork. Feel free to write me about your stress-busting ideas. Schedule any of these stress busting activities into your week and watch your energy go up.