11 Tactics to Reduce Stress

  •    Law graduate and journalist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs market and grow their businesses.

As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, overstressed and burned out. That's why you need to keep a close eye on your mental health and take steps to reduce stress when necessary. Here are 11 ways to make sure stress doesn't take over your life.

1. Keep a healthy work-life balance. It's not always easy for an entrepreneur, but it's vital for your mental health. Try to give yourself time off every day when you're not working. Take time to relax every night, and give yourself at least one day off a week. Consider hiring an assistant if you have room in your budget, so you don't have to be on-call all the time.

2. Unplug from technology every day. Give yourself a block of time every day when you step completely away from technology, including social media. And try a day-long vacation every now and then when you don't touch social media or technology at all. Being constantly plugged in can actually wear you out.

3. Stay in shape. Working out can help you handle stress much better. Almost any type of exercise, from cardio to yoga, can help by increasing endorphins, improving your mood and giving you a chance to fully focus on something else. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

4. Go outside. Even if it's just for 30 minutes or an hour a day, a breather and a little fresh air can make a world of difference in reducing stress. But try for a bigger outing every now and then too. For example, a walk in a forest can lower blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone.

5. Take a staycation. If you can't afford a vacation or just don't have time for one, take a staycation instead. You can avoid the stress of travel and save money, while still getting much-needed rest. Stay at a nice resort or an Airbnb in your town to make it extra special. And take time to visit all those "touristy" spots you never see.

6. Find a hobby that has nothing to do with your job. This one's important, because we all need a chance to recharge and focus on something other than work. Whether it is creative writing, volunteering at a hospital or the humane society, painting or yoga, look for something that relaxes you and taps into your creative side.

7. Get a pet. Owning a pet can be a great stress reducer. They'll make you laugh with their antics, even if you're not in a great mood. And they love you unconditionally. Brushing a pet can be just as relaxing for you as it is for them. Teaching them tricks or going to an obedience class is a great distraction from the daily grind. And did you know that petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure?

8. Spend one night a week out with friends. Everyone needs a break from time to time. Maybe you can't take a weekend off, but try to at least go out one night a week with your friends or family. It doesn't have to be anything major. Just going out for dinner, a movie or a game of trivia can be the perfect way to unwind and get your mind off work.

9. Try out mindfulness meditation exercises. Mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety and stress. This type of meditation teaches you to be in the present, instead of worrying about the future or the past, and to acknowledge your feelings without judgment. There are quite a few apps you can get to try out mindfulness techniques, such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace and Smiling Mind.

10. Make sure you're getting enough sleep. You'd be surprised just how much stress can come from simply not getting enough sleep. And it can create a vicious cycle, where you feel more stressed because you didn't sleep well and then have an even tougher time falling asleep. Try to develop good sleep habits, and look into some sleep apps for help. Make sleep a priority, even if you have to finish your work a day later.

11. Get help. There's nothing wrong with admitting you can't solve an issue on your own. If your stress levels are overwhelming you, get help. Join a support group, take a stress management class or see a counselor. It sometimes takes more strength to admit you need help than to try to tough something out on your own.

Don't wait until you're completely burned out before you tackle stress. If you follow a few of these 11 ideas, you can reduce stress and actually be more productive at your job as a result.