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Lower your levels

What you can do to lower your stress levels and be more productive

By Snowden McFall

Cash flow, deadlines, and payroll—they can all create enormous stress and pressure for you. And as an entrepreneur, you are especially prone to burnout.

The American Psychological Association says 80% of all American workers feel burned out (not just stressed), and one-third of Americans say they are living with extreme stress.1 Nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related, with 43% of all adults having ill health because of stress.

So that raises the question, “How stressed out are you?” Check the boxes that apply to you:

  • You come home regularly dead-tired with little or no energy.
  • The concept of vacation is inconceivable to you- you have way too much to do to go away.
  • You don’t have time to exercise regularly or participate in your favorite hobbies.
  • You snap at your loved ones and friends fairly often.

If three of the above are true for you, you may be hovering near burnout.

What can you do to lower your stress levels?

1. Get more sleep. You need at least seven hours a night, (the minimum to prevent cancer according to the World Health Organization.) Less than seven hours means you are functioning at a cognitive disadvantage and are three times more susceptible to colds.

You are also likely to gain more weight and carry an extra 20 pounds. Your body is 30% less efficient at burning calories when it is sleep-deprived. Fortune Small Business reported that 13% of entrepreneurs have trouble getting to sleep every night. Do that long enough and you end up with high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

The solution: plan for good sleep. Go to bed earlier, do not check email before bed, do not take your phone or beeper to bed, do not watch TV in bed. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleeping, making love, and resting.

2. Take vacations: Expedia found that 34% of Americans don’t go on vacation at all! What’s scary about that is for women aged 45-64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half, according to a study by Boston College!2

A study by Expedia found most people feel rested and rejuvenated after vacation, are more productive and more satisfied with their marriages. Think your business will suffer if you are out of touch for a week or two? Strategic Coach in Canada discovered that when his clients doubled their vacation days, they doubled their income.3

3. Drink water. Every cell in your body depends on water to function properly. Throughout the day, you lose about eight cups of water, which must be replenished. A 5% drop in body fluids will cause a 25% to 30% loss in energy; a 15% drop causes death. Often overlooked, water is vital to health, to life and to stress reduction.

Try to drink filtered clean water, relieved of toxins like mercury, chlorine, etc., that are often found in public water systems. Never drink water from a bottle that has been sitting in the hot sun all day—that can be a carcinogen. And caffeine drinks actually leach water from your system, so you need to drink more to replace those beverages.

To determine exactly the right amount for you, take your weight and divide it in half. That’s approximately how many ounces of water a day you need to drink. Try it, you’ll be amazed at the increase in energy.

4. Cultivate optimism. Optimists live seven years longer than pessimists, have better lung function and are far less likely to die young or from cancer. Optimists actually breathe easier. Several studies from National Institute of Health (NIH) and Yale demonstrate this.

Dr. Martin Sullivan of the University of Pennsylvania spent 20 years interviewing 350,000 executives and learned something fascinating—the top 10% performers think differently from others; they are all optimists! So if you want greater success, achievements, and profits in your business, become a more positive thinker.

Small business owners provide two-thirds of the jobs in the greater Jacksonville area. You can only continue to run a successful business if you take care of yourself and lower the stress levels of yourself and your staff. You’ll live longer, be healthier and your family will thank you, too.

Snowden McFall, is a professional speaker and author and co-author of five books, including “Fired Up!,” and “Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers.” An expert on stress, motivation and optimism/happiness, she can be reached at 904-940-7355 or through www.firedupnow.com.

  1. “Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.
  2. Brown, Sarah, “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003
  3. Brown, Sarah, “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003

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