Stress Relief Techniques For Startup Founders

Management Sales Startups

Posted by Enrico on Feb 01, 2016 1640

I wrote before about how stressed I felt when I started my business. Managing my stress became one of the many things I had on my To Do list each day. While avoiding stressful situations is a great strategy, it isn’t always successful. To that end, this post will address some ways to help you cope with stressful situations more effectively.

Stress Relief Techniques

Do you remember being told as a child to take several deep breaths and count to ten if you were upset? There is a great deal of truth in this wonderful homespun common sense. As you breathe in deeply, you bring strength to your posture that gives an added sense of positivity as you open your chest and therefore your heart to those around you.

Below are some additional stress relief techniques that I use to minimize stress whenever it’s needed:

Breathe correctly. It is incredible how many people do not know that the quality of your breathing will influence your capacity to handle stress and your brain efficiency. Deep breathing counteracts the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Action points:

  1. Breathe deeply from the abdomen getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
  2. Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  3. Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
  4. Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
  5. Continue breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises. Count slowly as you exhale.

If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Take the Time. Timing is linked to your mental stress since this is the way you organize your time during the day. Taking the time in the morning to wake up properly will positively influence your day.

Action points:

  1. Stretch. Some stretching and muscles awakening exercises before breakfast can reduce stress. Look at dogs; they never leave their basket without stretching themselves. If you do not stretch and wake up under pressure, you will trigger your stress and limit your potential brain during the whole day.
  2. Eat a good breakfast. Eating at regular times will avoid hormonal ups and downs, mood swing and lack of concentration. Start your day with a good breakfast.

Mind your posture. Your posture depends on the tonicity of your neck, chest and back. If the neck and chest are too tight, stretch them through a massage. If the back is too loose, strengthen it but only after stretching chest and neck. Try paying attention to both your posture and your breathing next time you have to stand for a long time in the same position.

Action points:

  1. Plant your feet firmly under your hips, about a shoulder width apart.
  2. Now tuck your tailbone under and stretch your spine upwards towards the ceiling.
  3. Roll your shoulders back and downwards and position your neck squarely.
  4. Tighten your tummy muscles and project upwards with your chest to create a 'space between the bottom of your rib cage and your stomach.
  5. Gaze straight ahead and draw your breathe deeply through your nose and down to the bottom of your rib cage and gently hold.
  6. Now allow the out breath to flow like a sigh from the bottom of your lungs and out of your mouth and feel the difference. As you breathe deeply into your lungs, you are feeding valuable oxygen into your depleted system. The instant sense of relief can be quite remarkable.

Drink properly. Hydration is important for your health. Dehydration is responsible for 90% of all the diseases.

Action points:

  1. Drink 1 or 2 cup of warm water after brushing your teeth.
  2. Drink at least 1/30 of your weight in liters per day.
  3. Drink water outside your meals.
  4. Avoid coffee, tea, juice, soft, and alcohol when thirsty.
  5. Add a reminder on your cell phone or computer every 2 hours to drink water.

Eat healthy. The quality of the food on the market should be your number 1 criterion when choosing what you eat. You need many vitamins, enzymes, nutrients and minerals. If you do not have them from your food, your body will eventually get depleted. Organic food has from 10 to 32% more vitamins than non-organic food. Make your choice whenever it is possible. If you eat better, you eat less and get less often sick. So at the end of the day, this is cheaper, too. The food that you eat controls your digestion and will influence your energy level, your mood, your physical shape and your weight.

Action points:

  1. Always have breakfast.
  2. Eat raw food before cooked food (normally 15 min).
  3. Eat in a relaxed atmosphere.

Improve your sleep time. Sleepiness can be a symptom of burnout or something directly related to the level of serotonin. Sleepiness after eating can also be linked to food intolerance. If you fall asleep when talking, watching TV or in a car, you must rethink your lifestyle and see where you are losing energy.  On a biological point of view, sleeping from 11pm to 6am is not the same than from 1am to 8am. Occasionally it may not influence your health, but regularly and years after years, this later schedule can introduce huge stress on your system.

Action points:

  1. Stay away from caffeine. It is a stimulant that can make you alert and awake but it will also prevent you from sleeping or getting a deep level of sleep and that could lead to daytime sleepiness or constant tiredness.
  2. Find positive activities to reduce stress like yoga, exercises and plan a vacation once in a while. These activities will help your sleep time and reduce stress.

Move and regularly stretch. The L4 - L5 is a key joint for your spine. This is the one supporting your entire back and will be influenced by your stress level. If you have a lack of mobility, you increase the risk of back pain and hernia.

Action points:

  1. Check all the seats that you use (car, office, house-chair, etc.) and make them as comfortable as possible reducing the physical to the minimum.
  2. Take 5 min to walk every 2 hours. Consider also sitting on a Swiss ball at work.
  3. Massage the soles of your feet with a tennis ball for a minute in the morning and at night.
  4. Stretch your lower back before going to bed at night.

Do regular physical exercise. Physical exercise is primordial. Human bodies are made to move and if they do not, stress will be stuck somewhere in your muscles, joints, digestive track, heart, etc. Your exercise program, your stress management, your level of hydration, your quantity of stimulants and your emotions affect your heart.

Action point:

  1. Do at least 20 minutes of cardio exercises, 5 times per week.

Spend more time with friends. A manager’s agenda is always packed, but it is a fact that spending more time with your friends will reduce the amount of stress by making you feel more loved and appreciated. Feeling better typically leads to be more productive.

Action points:

  1. Schedule a weekly guys or girls night. You’ll have a great time hanging out with your friends. You can, for example, try a new restaurant or bar together every week.
  2. Take a sports class with a friend. Classes are a great way to get some exercise while hanging out.
  3. Find a walking buddy. Going on walks is not only great for dealing with stress, but you can strike up a thoughtful conversation with a friend while walking.
  4. Get into one-on-one conversations when possible to have a deeper conversation and deeper bonds with your friends.

Stress is normal for every person.  The key is to learn to deal with it without being scared. When feeling stress, one should take a step back and tell himself or herself, "Hey, stop, there is something wrong... let’s understand what we are doing wrong and let’s change it." Then, once you make the proper changes, you can turn stress into a positive instead of a negative for your business.

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    Enrico Tam

    MBA, PhD, tech entrepreneur, maker

    Hi, I’m Enrico and I started hacking at 9 years old back when it was Visual Basic. After trying to become a professional tennis player I somehow got entangled in a PhD in engineering, an MBA programme and a big consulting fir... (continued)

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