How to Cope with Business Overwhelm
Business overwhelm is a very common experience for anyone running their own business. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what size your company is or where you’re located.
Sometimes when overwhelm strikes, it’s because your entire working week has been spent putting out work-related fires. Or being constantly stuck in crisis management mode. Or that you never have time to do the good stuff or grow your business. And that’s because you’re too busy dealing with all the little things.
Many businesses have experienced hard times in recent years. But regional areas in particular, have taken a beating, facing challenges raised by the pandemic, bushfires, droughts, floods and bad weather affecting crops and tourism. And there’s no question this has a negative impact on morale and mental health.
Given recent events and how they have impacted those living in regional communities, the HOLGRO team has developed a new article series aimed at providing practical advice for those struggling with trauma and overwhelm. In this fourth article, we’ll investigate how to overcome business overwhelm.
What is business overwhelm?
Business overwhelm is when an entrepreneur or business owner feels so stressed, anxious or worried due to having to do too many things in a short amount of time that they become unable to take productive steps forward. This is not an unusual situation – many business owners experience it.
In fact, the Small Business and Mental Health: Supporting Small Business when they are Facing Challenges report published in 2020 found that nearly one in three small business owners reported a diagnosis of either stress, depression or anxiety in the previous 12-month period. The report also noted that the level of stress experienced by small business owners was often underreported.
8 common signs of business overwhelm
There are some common signs of business overwhelm to look out for. They can include:
- Feeling irritable all the time – When people feel overwhelmed, small insignificant triggers can set them off and put them into fight or flight mode.
- Feeling mentally drained – Stress can be exhausting and it can often feel like groundhog day, with the pressures mounting.
Having trouble focusing or making decisions – You feel like you have too many things to do and have no idea where to start. You end up feeling stuck and procrastinating on starting anything.
- Struggling to sleep – Whether you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, insomnia is a brutal beast. When our heads are filled with worries, it can feel impossible to turn everything off and unwind.
- Feeling unwell – Stress doesn’t only affect the mind but the physical body too. Excess cortisol can even lead to digestion issues such as diarrhoea, belly cramps and constipation.
- Negative self-perception and self-talk – When you feel like you’re unable to complete tasks, doing nothing right and forgetting things, negative self-talk can set in. When this becomes a regular occurrence and affects the way you see yourself, it’s an issue.
- Social withdrawal – People who are struggling with business overwhelm might start isolating themselves too. Maybe you feel like you have no time, don’t have the mental capacity to add one more thing to your plate or are too mentally and emotionally drained to socialise.
- Making mistakes and forgetting things – Sometimes when the mental load is too much, or our internal monologue is working overtime, we can make simple mistakes and miss appointments.
Of course, many of these can also be signs of another issue. So be sure to speak to a medical professional if you have any concerns.
How to overcome business overwhelm
Being busy doesn’t always mean productive – and that can leave many people feeling frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed. If you’re feeling business overwhelm, here are some suggestions to try.
Delegating can feel like an impossible pipe dream when you’re a one-man band with a huge to-do list. But spend some time thinking about which tasks take up more time than they’re worth. More than likely, you have a specialised skill set, and you may be wasting most of your workday on tasks that simply aren’t worth your time.
Consider hiring a casual worker, contractor or intern, or embrace technology to do it for you. There are many apps and programs that can help you with basic tasks.
Cut back on notifications
It can be tempting to be alerted every single time something happens in your business or on your company’s social media accounts. But constant notifications are likely adding to your stress levels.
Business owners often fall into the trap of feeling like they have to be everything to everyone. A better approach is to simplify. Consider a longer-term plan that helps you to lay out the steps so you don’t feel the pressure to offer too many products and/or services at once.
Too much complexity in your business can lead to overwhelm. Tune in to our SEEDS OF HOPE webinar on SMART goals to help you analyse your goals and track your progress. Or sign up for our Business and Marketing Fundamentals Workshop Webinar for a healthy dose of business inspiration.
Make sure your needs are being met
Beyond the basic physiological and safety requirements, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. Consider your current sense of connection, self-esteem and freedom, and figure out which areas you need to focus on.
Get a support system
There are many networking and online communities for business owners. It’s a great idea to search around and find the right tribe for you. Having a support network of like-minded people will help you to share your concerns and workshop solutions.
Set healthy limits on your work hours
We all find it hard to stop when we’re on a roll or pushing for a deadline. But it’s crucial also to give yourself a break – particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you use your leisure time wisely and focus on practices that will help you unwind and take the focus off the business.
How do you plan on spending those extra hours you won’t be working? Block out chunks of time in your work calendar the week or month before so you are less likely to skip it. Mastering a new skill is a great confidence booster, so take up a new hobby, or commit to a mindfulness practice.
With digital devices, you can be online anytime. And you might catch yourself checking work emails at night (or all night!). Of course, there may be times when you need to be accessible. But the next time you catch yourself checking your work emails after hours, simply check in to see if it’s out of habit or necessity.
Setting boundaries in both your personal and business life is vital to your mental health. Each time you receive an offer, reflect on your values and only say yes to things that align and light you up.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article should be considered general advice only and professional advice should always be obtained.
If you need to speak to someone, please call:
Lifeline: 131 114
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636