I am a member of a great organization called the Indie Business Network. There are oodles of benefits to being an Indie, but I would have to say that our Facebook group jumps up to the number one reason for me. It’s like having a support group at my fingertips 24/7 for anything – questions about business; rants about the increased cost of shipping; or support when home, school, and business all overwhelm me. It’s also a great place to celebrate that huge stack of wholesale orders and to laugh with other business people. I know from experience that, when one member is just totally sinking, the leader of the organization, Donna Maria, will reach out to that member by email and/or phone to lend personal, one-on-one support and guidance. Been there, done that, still enjoy putting that guidance into practice. (“Mom, can you wash my clothes after my sister’s?” “I’m not in charge of laundry. You’ll need to ask your dad.” Oh my gosh, that felt soooo good to say yesterday!!!)
There comes a time in every Indie’s life and business, though, when the stresses get to be too much. Money is tight, supplies are low, and when you go to look for your customers, you hear crickets instead of cash registers. On top of that, one of the kids is sick, the cat has to go to the vet, and the septic tank is backing up. What’s a business owner to do?
This came up for discussion this week in our group, and I offered to compile all the suggestions, including some of my own, into a blog post to share with everyone. We all have our own unique ways of handling stress, and you hopefully can find inspiration from our ideas. I promised anonymity, so there will be no names attached to these.
(1) “Get drunk and ride an elephant.” One member did this as part of her personal retreat to re-evaluate her business. It’s come to represent to me doing something so totally different from your personal norm that it shakes up how you view things. Closely related to this is…
(2) “If there’s no elephant available, get drunk and ride a hot guy.” Because, seriously, unless you’re in Asia, Africa or a zoo, elephants are hard to come by. Sex is great stress relief! (My husband suggested making the UPS guy verrrry happy. Hmmm… “What can Brown do for you?” just takes on a whole new meaning when you put it that way, doesn’t it?)
(3) Spend time taking care of you first. I love this message about taking care of yourself for 24 hours. Do things just for you. Call it being selfish, if you will, but that time can make you such a better parent or business owner.
(4) Cuss. A lot. Loudly. To hell with acting and sounding like a lady! If a man building a house were to hit his finger with a hammer, he’d be cussing up a storm. A woman building a business takes her hits, too. She should feel free to express her anger, hurt, and frustration in crude, primal ways.
(5) Be in the moment. Do what feels right for you in that moment. Cry. Laugh like a maniac. Whine. Gripe. Scream. Experience the catharsis.
(6) Enjoy some chocolate and wine. Dark, milk, or white. Liquor-filled or basic Doves. Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, or Sweet Muscadine. Indulge responsibly. I have found that a glass of dry white accompanied by some dark chocolate m&m’s can greatly improve my outlook on life.
(7) Get yourself into some hot water. Whether your prefer a milk soak, bubble bath, or bath salts, grab a book, maybe some wine or chocolate, possibly even the guy from point #2, and sit back in peacefulness. Leave your stress in the tub and watch it go down the drain.
(8) Escape. Take 15 minutes to yourself. Take half a day for a trip to a day spa. Take a night away in a B&B. Take two nights. Or three. Or a week! Unplug. The world will survive without you for a few days. Close the doors on the business for a while and come back refreshed and recharged. I try to take 15 minutes to myself each evening and an overnighter at least every other month. These times away from my business and family make me a happier mom and a more productive owner. As I said in our group, I love my girls, and I love them even more after some healthy separation.
(9) Exercise. Yoga, running, walking, lifting weights or whatever works for you. Just do it. Get those endorphins going and cleanse your mind as your sweat out the stress.
(10) Finally, reassess. After going through any or all of these de-stressing routines, determine what you are gaining from your business. Is it spending money? Is it extra income for your family? Is it the reward of being your own boss? Your business should be benefiting you in some way. If it’s not, then it’s time to assess whether this is the best choice for you. Stepping aside and looking at your business from a new angle can help put things in the right perspective.
I’m sure you have your own ways of beating back stress, frustration, and hopelessness. What works best for you? Share them so we can learn from each other.