By Alexander Kokkedal, writer for SEA at AAU.
Stress is a part of every person’s life and not by itself nefarious. If stress gets you going and pushes you to complete tasks on time and vanishes once a specific task is dealt with, then stress can be beneficial. Problems arise when you’re in a constant state of stress brought on by worrying too much about the little things you can’t control. The road to starting up a business is paved with factors that can lead to stress, e.g. gaining/retaining access to capital, killing your darlings, and taking risks.
Søren Dige of the coaching company Mindstep made a presentation at the AAU Inkubator in which he described stress as being “seasick without a boat and an ocean”. He commented on the prevalence of stress in modern society and its biological connection to survival mechanisms that humans share with other animals, in which the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body to make it fit for fight or flight.
Dige’s three important tools for dealing with stress are 1) taking breaks where the mind is engaged with something unrelated to stressing factors, 2) getting closure on tasks/things troubling you so they don’t dominate your thoughts, and 3) getting proper sleep to recover the body and mind – any sleep is better than staying awake.
Specific stressing factors
While giving his presentation at AAU, Søren Dige commented on stress brought forth by worries about the future, pointing out that nothing he has visualised – neither good nor bad – has ever happened exactly as foreseen. The value of creating very specific scenarios in your head for what might happen can be questioned. He underlines the fact that ultimately, getting a business to run isn’t about the product, but about the people running it.
For those who are interested, the internet is ripe with advice from professionals on how to deal with stress as an entrepreneur, including organizing all tasks on just one platform (so no sticky notes for some tasks and the calendar for others), outsourcing accounting or administrative tasks if possible, setting limits for how much of your time over the course of a week should be invested in the startup, and recognizing your daily accomplishments in a positive light.