When I first started working for myself, and in the years to follow, I noticed that I often had this strange feeling in my head and my chest. And, at times, a lot of negative thoughts. I kept thinking to myself, “What's wrong with me?”
After years of busting my chops working hard to make other people successful, I had the chance to invest in my own success.So shouldn’t I feel happy? Excited? Grateful to get the chance to create the business and lifestyle of my dreams?
Instead, I felt stressed, worried, and under a lot of pressure. I often wondered “Is it worth it?”
Maybe you’ve felt the same way? Stress in business is common but just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you should just accept it, especially if you want to work smarter in your business.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned a thing or two about stress and working for yourself, and so I thought I’d share my thoughts and findings with you here.
What’s your stress test score?
When I started studying to become a qualified business coach, it was because I wanted to get my skills formally recognised and also help my clients using a proven framework. But during my studies, I’ve also come across a number of useful coaching resources that I’ll likely use for myself and my clients for many years to come.
One of my favourite finds so far, is to do with stress. Halfway through my studies, I came across the Life Events Stress Test, a basic test that was developed in 1967 by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe. This test gives you a list of life events and their “stress score”. To test yourself, you tick the events that have occurred in the past twelve months, then add up your score. Then you interpret the score based on a scale which shows how “at risk of illness” that you are.
When I did the test, I was excited to find out how I scored. But when I added it up, I was off the charts! My stress level score was 460! And just to give you some context, a healthy score is less than 150, and a high-risk score is over 300.
|Under 150||Your likelihood of illness in the near future is low|
|150-299||Your likelihood of illness in the near future is moderate|
|300+||Your likelihood of illness in the near future is high or very high|
Download your stress test to diagnose your risk
I’ve made a copy of the stress test available to you. Just click below to request it and start filling it out. (I highly recommend all business owners do this.) Download the stress test here.
Stress can seriously affect your capacity in business and life
As part of my studies, I learned that stress can seriously affect our capacity in our business and our lives. It doesn’t just increase your risk of illness, but it can negatively impact your wellbeing and enjoyment of life everyday. In fact, it can make some potentially wonderful things in your life very hard to enjoy because you feel overwhelmed. So with a score well into the high-risk category,
I knew I had to change something.
How I changed my stress levels
Unfortunately, trying to change was my biggest problem. You see, the reason I was so stressed is that I was constantly trying to change. I wanted to fix myself, fix my business, and just get everything right. But that was creating a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of instability in my business, which of course, led to more stress!
But after doing the stress test and seeing my score, I realised I needed to work smarter, not harder. So that was when I decided to stop trying to fix myself. I decided to stop judging myself. And funnily enough, a lot of the stress melted away simply because I finally knew what was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong with me – I was just stressed! Really stressed.
You only have to change one thing. Everything.
In hindsight, it’s (sort of) funny to think that when I was so stressed, if you had told me to “just stop stressing” I would have told you to get nicked!
But the one thing that helped me stop stressing was when I realised I was the only one who could say to myself “just stop stressing”. And I did. It worked because after I saw the cold, hard facts, I knew I didn’t want to do that to myself, or my family, anymore.
Make change a reality by writing it down
Another huge part of how I was able to reduce my stress levels is by making it more real and getting it down on paper.
You see, it was when I saw my stress test score written down that I started to think about the impacts. Before I’d had this reality check, it was like, “yeah yeah yeah I know I’m stressed”. But I kinda wore it like a “badge of honour” at times. And at other times I felt ashamed about it. But the reason I felt that way was because I didn’t actually think there was a problem. Yep, I was in denial.
I’ve realised that I need to see things written down in black and white, rather than just letting it bob around in my head.
Maybe you’re the same?
Now it’s something I always tell my clients. If there’s something you want to change, improve, or optimise, get it out of your head and write it down. It’s no good just having it in your head! When I practiced what I preached with changing my stress levels, it felt amazing, and it resulted in real, lasting change.
3 steps to reduce your stress in business
If you struggle with stress, here’s what you need to do:
- Step 1: Download the stress test
- Step 2: Calculate your score and see how it compares on the scale
- Step 3: Accept that you might have a problem with stress*, and be kind to yourself. Start to take the pressure off yourself!
*I’m not a doctor or psychologist, so if it’s really high and you’re concerned, then you can always speak to your GP.
Over to you
After you’ve downloaded the test and found out your score, I’d love it if you’d come back here and share it in the comments. Why do you think you’re so stressed? And what are you going to do to try and take the pressure off?
If your score is a bit of a shocker (like mine was!), it’s better to know where you’re at so you can improve. It’ll make a huge difference to your business and your life.