Business consultants face unique struggles and strains because of the heightened responsibility they hold for their own success. Owning a business consultancy means you usually operate in a fast paced and demanding environment. Consultants also have increased accountability due to being constantly connected by technology.
Stress seems to be becoming more and more of an issue all the time. The Australian Stress and Wellbeing survey from 2013 found that Australians reported significantly higher levels of stress and distress compared with previous findings from 2012 and 2011. Almost one-in-seven Australians reported depressive symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range.
The key findings of the recent Medibank-commissioned research found that stress-related presentism and absenteeism are costing the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year. Stress-related presentism and absenteeism are directly costing employers $10.11 billion a year. Don’t let the costs of stress impede on your ability to be an effective consultant.
While stress is often commonly associated with working for yourself, you can maintain it within healthy ranges. Stress does not need to be problematic, especially as it is an unavoidable element of being alive. Stress can be useful as it raises our adrenaline, focuses our thinking and can help speed up our decision making. We need stress to be able to force us into a quick decision making, such as swerving your bike if you see an oncoming car.
However, chronic stress and working in fast paced environments can put our bodies into a long-term hyper alert state. In the long term, this reduces our immune response and makes us susceptible to illness and diseases.
By recognising the stress in our lives, you can rewire your brain and body to respond more positively to stress.
In Australia, one of the major stressors noted was 'Nagging Unfinished Tasks'. It can be helpful to write a list of all of these down and try to resolve them. Categorise them as short term and longer term priorities.
Deep breathing is another way to reduce stress. Lie flat on the floor with one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale and take a deep breath and push out your belly so that it fills with air. Hold this and count to 5. Slowly begin to exhale, counting to 7 and pull the bellybutton in to release the air out. This exercise only takes 5 minutes and can be incorporated into your everyday routine.
Having control of breath, turns on parasympathetic nervous system which allow your body to calm down. Will Van Ryke researched that deep breathing emits a sense of calm to others around you. When others see you being clam, they mimic your breathing patterns and also become calm.
Stress is only problematic when it prevents you from living a healthy and happy life. Some stressful periods in our lives are followed by wonderful periods of accomplishment and success. Without stress, we would not push ourselves towards high performance and may never embark on thrilling new opportunities.
Challenge yourself to look at stress in a new light and find challenges which refresh you. Avoid chronic stress by allowing your body to calm and prioritising tasks which need to be actioned.