When you run a small business, you’ve got a lot of responsibility. Sometimes that results in small business owner stress that can hurt your company. A study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Alarm.com found that the average small-business owner in America loses 44 minutes of productive work time every day due to worries about their business, representing an annual cost of about $10,000.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to combat it. Our brains have four natural chemicals that help us feel happier. It’s possible to naturally trigger the chemicals to tap into their power and better handle the stress of being a business owner.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s naturally produced in the brain. It contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system, according to Psychology Today. When we achieve a goal, our brain releases dopamine. This chemical is also linked to focus, which can be derailed when you’re stressed.
If you’re overwhelmed by a big project, you can get a natural dose of dopamine by setting small achievable goals. For example, break down a large task into tiny steps. When you hit each milestone, you’ll get a release of dopamine that can help you overcome your stress. Be sure to mark each completion in a way that fuels your brain. For example, simply making a list and checking off tasks when you’re done can be all you need.
Called “feel good” chemicals, endorphins are the body’s natural way of stress reduction. They boost happiness and act as a pain reliever, according to Medical News Today.
One of the easiest ways to get a natural release of endorphins is through exercise. This can be as simple as a brisk walk, or you can choose another activity that you enjoy. Another way to increase your endorphins is to do something nice for someone else. Volunteering is one idea, or even just giving someone a compliment can work. You can also release endorphins with food. Studies have found that dark chocolate can help. And another way to release endorphins is to laugh. Take a break at work and watch a funny video—anything that gets you to laugh will relieve stress.
Oxytocin is a chemical that is linked to trust and loyalty. It’s known as the “cuddle hormone,” according to Psychology Today. While you probably don’t want to cuddle with your employees, this hormone is also triggered by social bonding. When you release oxytocin, you enhance the sense of camaraderie.
You can naturally release oxytocin by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each day. You can also express gratitude to others. Make a point of thanking employees or recognizing them for jobs well done. And make time for bonding experiences with your employees. Work retreats can help release oxytocin, allowing you to get rid of stress and come back strong and refreshed.
Finally, serotonin is a chemical that regulates mood and helps with sleep. This is also known as the “confidence molecule,” according to Psychology Today. Higher levels of serotonin are linked to self-esteem and accomplishment. This can be helpful when you own a business and you need to be willing to take risks.
You can naturally release serotonin by simply reliving a moment when you accomplished a goal or tackled and completed a difficult task. It can help to write down your successes in a journal so they’re handy. Sunlight or bright light can also trigger serotonin. Put your desk next to a window or make sure your office is well lit. Using daylight light bulbs can help. Exercise can also increase serotonin. Make time to take a walk outside, especially on a sunny day, and you’ll get yourself a double dose.
Small business owner stress can cost you productivity and money, and sometimes a simple solution is the best one. When you’re feeling stressed at work, take a break and do an activity that will release some of your happy chemicals. You’ll recharge your outlook and feel ready to tackle whatever comes next.