#4: How to destress – for founders

#4: How to destress – for founders
Photo by Elisa Ventur / Unsplash

This week has been extremely stressful for me. I made a tweet last week about moving:

And... spoiler alert: I no longer like moving.

The move alone wasn't the issue. But, little did I know it would be the first of numerous stressors this week. And that's how things work sometimes. You'll have a productive, focused, stress-free week swiftly followed by a week of pure chaos and anarchy.

So, guess where I got the idea for this blog post?

Stress

Stress. Every founder faces it. And it's a difficult thing to pin down. It can come out of nowhere. It can slowly brew on the horizon. It can be both at once. But, I do believe it can be managed.

It's like everything else founders face. The first time you face it, it's very scary, it makes you want to quit, but you tackle it and learn from it. The next time, you take a second, create a plan, and start moving towards that plan. Suddenly, it's not so scary.

But, this week the stress was very much unexpected. This is what my most stressful day felt like:

beep! beep! beep!

It's 6am. The alarm clock is blaring.

beep! beep! beep!

You're jolted awake.

beep! beep! beep!

You run across the room.

beep! beep! beep!

You swiftly hit "stop".

...waiting...

...waiting..

peace :)

But stress doesn't go away that easily. Stress doesn't simply turn off. Stress can only be snoozed.

And so you continue your day. And just when you're least expecting it...

beep! beep! beep!

The cycle continues.


Since my week felt like this, I decided to write down things I thought might help. I grabbed some ideas from the internet, and some from my own head. Then, I tried them. Cause why not?

This is my review:

❤️ Breathing

This was recommended everywhere. It didn't work for me. I'm not sure why it didn't work. I'm also not sure why it would've worked. But worth a try as it only takes a couple minutes.

💛 Going on a walk

This is my typical stress-reduction method. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't work, I've found it's because it creates too much space for me to overthink. This week, it didn't work.

💚 Working out

I didn't work out for a week. Partly because I was already doing a lot of driving while moving. And partly because I didn't have my normal habits in place to trigger me to workout. Usually, I try to be consistent about doing my training. I can't tell if the stress caused me to stop working out or if me stopping my workouts caused the stress. Either way, I forced myself to go this week. And it worked!

💚 Giving up control

A lot of my stress this week was actually out of my control. In a previous article, I wrote about one benefit of being a bootstrapper. It's the fact that so much of the process can be in your control. I also wrote about how that can be a negative. This week, it was a negative. I wasn't experienced enough at giving up control.

So, I wrote down the things that were stressing me out. Then, I wrote down the actions I could take. Then, I did those actions. Finally, I checked the list and saw there were no more actions I could take. Once I knew that, and had written proof, I went down multiple stress levels. I absolutely recommend that others try doing the same.

💚 Seeing friends

Sometimes pure distraction can be a solution as-well. Especially if the stress is outside of your control. What's a good source of distraction? friends.

🚀
Note: I also tried non-social distractions. They didn't work. Partly because afterwards I'd not only feel stressed, but also unproductive. 0/10.

💚 Simply... waiting

In my scenario, simply giving it time turned out to help. I tried to think up endless "what-ifs" and "disaster-scenario solutions", but I realized I need to take a step back first.

If it's out of my control, I shouldn't spend my time thinking 3 steps ahead. It's like chess. Any number of moves might be played. But, it's not my turn. And, although it's useful to think even when it's not your turn, it's not useful to overthink. It's better to save your mental energy. Let the other person play their move, and then craft a response.

💚 Writing

Oddly enough, I drafted this blog post during that stressful day. It gave me a canvas to think onto and a distraction that yielded productivity. I'd recommend it!

Got other tips?

So that's it. These are the  is what helped me this week. Got things that you do when you're stressed? Tweet me. As always I'll keep the article updated with evergreen tips from others.