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Business Owners Combat Fatigue

Business Owners and their “Combat Fatigue”

Business Owners Combat FatigueCombat fatigue, according to the dictionary, is a psychological disturbance caused by prolonged exposure to active warfare, especially being under bombardment. But this sounds a lot like the psychological disturbance that many small business owners are experiencing from going through two years of COVID-19, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and most recently, spiking inflation. Not to belittle or even equate the wartime experience, small business owners need to find ways to handle their “combat fatigue”—severe stress—and move ahead. Here are some ideas to help.

Recognize the symptoms of severe stress

The symptoms of combat fatigue in the military listed by Military One Source are not too different from the symptoms of severe stress experienced by some business owners today:

  • Irritability and anger outbursts
  • Excessive fear and worry
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Depression and apathy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in behavior or personality

If you are experiencing some of these conditions, it’s probably time to face the fact that stress has gotten the better of you and you need to act.

Make yourself a priority

It’s common for small business owners to put everything but themselves first. Their business needs, including those of their employees, sap their attention and energy. But in the long run, owners need to put themselves first so they can effectively deal with everything else.

  • Set time limits for business activities. In this 24/7 business paradigm, owners’ mobile phones are never off…but they should be so put bookends on the workday.
  • Relax and rest. Don’t overlook vacation time, even if you stay at home.

Take actions to reduce stress

Verizon lists 7 actions for entrepreneurs to reduce stress:

  1. Have a workplace focused on wellness
  2. Embrace a health food culture
  3. Maintain real connections and support
  4. Institute 25 minutes of daily meditation
  5. Give back to your community
  6. Make time for self-care
  7. Find a leadership network for support

Get help

According to one study, 49% of entrepreneurs have mental health issues at some point in their lives. Don’t let stress get to the breaking point, which may result in a psychological breakdown or a serious physical condition (e.g., heart attack). If stress has reached a critical level that’s impeding your ability to function at your normal pace, it may be time to seek professional help.

Final thought

The good news is that a study by FreshBooks and Mind Share Partners found that 80% of entrepreneurs rated their mental health as “good” or “very good,” despite the pandemic. Unfortunately, that leaves 20% with problems.

If you recognize a problem in yourself and, despite taking actions to reduce stress, are still experiencing difficulties, professional help may be an answer.

Remember the words of Winnie the Pooh: “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”