The end of the financial year and its aftermath is one of the most stressful times of the year for those in small business. Why is this time stressful? Simply because stress is an accumulation of all the demands on you, and all the pressures and uncertainties you are facing. These pressures are likely to intensify with the EOFY and beyond.
There doesn’t have to be just one big stressor in your life for you to feel stressed. In fact, often there may be no individual demand on you that you can’t handle. It’s simply the fact that there are too many demands simultaneously that leads you to feel stressed. When you feel stressed, you lose the sense of being in control of what’s going on in your life.
A useful metaphor for stress is to picture carrying around a pile of boxes while trying not to drop any. As more boxes land on top of the pile, they become more unwieldy, and your attention is focused more on trying not to drop the boxes than on dealing with the issues the boxes represent.
How can I tell my stress levels are rising?
There are some tell-tale physical signs you are starting to feel stressed. You may notice:
- feeling irritable and/or snappy
- tension in your neck and shoulders
- reflux or indigestion after eating
- disturbed sleep
- struggling to switch your mind off
- struggling to concentrate.
If you start noticing any or all these signs, it is likely that your stress levels are building. When stress levels build some people find they become more focused and productive. High levels of stress, however, more commonly lead to people functioning in a less efficient and effective manner which serves to further increase their stress levels.
How to manage stress through the EOFY and beyond
Once you recognise your stress levels are rising due to the increased demands of the EOFY, you can use a three-step stress-busting plan to take back control of your situation.
Step 1. stop and breathe
When you are feeling overwhelmed or pressured, stopping what you are doing and taking a deep breath is a good way to force yourself to slow down. When you slow down you are better able to think and plan.
Step 2. plan and prioritise
When you have a lot going on, it becomes more important to create a plan. When feeling stressed, the human tendency is to become reactive rather than proactive. You can take back control of your situation simply by planning what needs to be done and when. Once you have a good idea of the tasks and commitments you have, you can prioritise them by considering the relative degree of importance and urgency of each. For example, if something is both urgent and important, it goes towards the top of the list. If something is urgent but not important, it is a matter of deciding whether you have the time to spend on it, or whether it gets cut from the list entirely.
Step 3. structure your day
Once you have a better idea of what needs to be done and when, you can utilise daily planning to efficiently structure your time in order to achieve your goals in a timely fashion. This may include prioritising more complex tasks at the beginning of the day when your mind is fresh and setting more routine tasks to be done later in the day. Daily planning should allow time for breaks, meals, and ideally exercise to keep your body and mind as fit as possible.