Stress? Not if I’ve anything to do with it.


Two stats about stress. Anywhere between 9m and 13m working days are lost to it every year. And stress apparently costs British employers £28 billion a year.

Lies, damned lies and statistics. If you do the maths that makes the average worker’s average working day worth £2,000 – so maybe the figures aren’t entirely reliable. But two points are undeniable: stress in the workplace is a major problem – and it’s increasing.

We all know the causes of stress – job insecurity, lack of recognition, ‘treadmill syndrome’, no feedback, mistrust, office politics…there seem to be as many potential causes as there are days lost. And as many solutions from the so-called experts: improve your time management, take more breaks, listen better, fix your working environment, lighten up, stop worrying about what you can’t change. So it goes on.

But supposing it’s your business? Then the causes of stress are clearly different. Listening to Board members – and even more so, potential members – over the past ten months, two factors seem to crop up again and again:

–       a feeling that there’s no-one to talk to (like I said in an earlier blog, running your own business is a lonely place)

–       and feeling that you’re not in control – that the business, (possibly aided and abetted by outside events), is controlling you

The trouble is, you can’t nip down to the GP and be awarded a week off. You’re the boss: suit up and get to work.

So what do you do about stress if yours is the desk where the buck always stops?

Speaking personally, there’s a short term solution, which is to go out and get sweaty. No problem seems quite as severe once there are a few endorphins charging round my body. But long term, the solution for a business owner is to be successful. Stress comes from missing targets, not achieving them. I’ve yet to hear anyone say, “Hey, I’ve reached all my goals for the year. I can’t cope.”

When I started this blog I didn’t set out to write about The Alternative Board – but if TAB’s about anything, it’s about helping the members avoid the negative impact of stress. The central purpose is to put you in control of the business – not to have the business controlling you. Like it says on the tin, “Improve business, enjoy life.”

And with TAB, there’s always someone to talk to – whether it’s me, or one of the other Board members.

So what’s the best way for us all to beat stress in 2011? It’s to begin the year knowing where you want to be at the end of it, to keep focused and keep on track.

What makes me stressed is the feeling that one of my members hasn’t achieved what they’re capable of. My new year’s resolution is to be stress free on Saturday December 31st 2011 – and I’m absolutely determined that every single one of my members will be able to look back on New Year’s Eve next year and say, “It’s been a great year. Targets achieved, stress eliminated. Pass the champagne…”

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6 comments

  1. Rich Cadden · December 2, 2010

    Hi Ed
    There have been a few studies regarding stress and theres two schools of thought.
    The first is all about getting that aggression out, and its good to focus the aggressions and energy in to hitting the punchbag/doing some padwork/lifting some weights/going for a run.
    The alternative school of thought suggest that this is the wrong tack and say that aggression breeds aggression, and can lead to developing more of a ‘no nonsense’ attitude and almost being a bit bolshy/overly-aggressive. Their recommendation for managing stress focusses more on relaxation and the ability to switch off, using things like hypnotherapy.
    BUPA basically recommend talking to people and airing your views with trained professionals, and we can tailor sessions to the individual.
    I am in the process of getting a stress management course approved by BUPA to work with groups, so if anyone wants any help, my services are available.

  2. Nicola Thresh · December 2, 2010

    Hi Ed,

    Yoga, taught by a good teacher and practiced regularly is fantastic.

    • edreidyork · December 2, 2010

      I’ll have to give it a try – thanks Nicola!

  3. Dave Rawlings · December 2, 2010

    It’s easy to say (which is probably why I’m always saying it) that stress is a response to a situation, not the situation itself. In principle you can choose how you want to respond – assuming you know how to do that which leads into a bag of techniques for controlling your state.
    In general think it’s a good idea to avoid making your future happiness dependent on events. In other words:
    ” …. meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same”

    • Rich Cadden · December 2, 2010

      Thats brilliant Dave.
      I have a child due on Dec 30th and 8-months ago, when I found out, I had that poem going round and round in my head. And when I think of fatherhood, and that poem, it always envokes stong emotions. 🙂

  4. Lorraine Ives · December 3, 2010

    For us exercise and walks with the dog breed a ‘we can do it’ attitude, but you soon lose the benefit when you carn’t get to the gym, or your health gives up, this is where Dave’s advice kicks in and how true it is!

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