Everyone knows that stress affects more than just your happiness. If you’re frequently freaking out, your appearance changes, your sleep becomes increasingly disordered, and, well, you can be a bit nasty towards even those you care most about. If you’re stressed out enough — or for long periods of time — you’ll even start to have impaired mental capacities, though it’s unlikely that you’ll notice until it’s too late. For all of these reasons, if you’re aspiring to be a great entrepreneur, you have to learn one thing first: how to relax.
We’ve all encountered people who brag about how little they sleep each night or how many hours they work each day. For many of us, including myself, we’ve been guilty of doing so ourselves. We may not even feel guilty about it. Bragging about stress makes us feel important. After all, only those who are unambitious or unintelligent have free time, right?
Related: 10 Ways Smart People Stay Calm
That’s where we’re all so, so wrong. True, being an entrepreneur is more stressful than working a typical job. A big reason why starting a business is stressful is because, really, an entrepreneur is a leader. You’re not only chasing your dream, but you’re convincing other people to chase it with you. But in order to do that well, you need to learn how to manage and reduce stress whenever possible, and it’s not just because you’ll feel better.
1. You’ll forget things.
While a jolt of adrenaline can make your mind race and accomplish things faster, long-term stress actually hurts your memory considerably. That means that while you think you’re working faster, you’re likely forgetting important points and are careening towards a poor decision the longer you stay frazzled. If that isn’t scary enough, there’s some data that suggests these effects may be permanent, as it actually makes your brain age faster.
2. You’ll take more sick days.
Think taking an hour-long lunch break to take a walk is too much time out of your hectic schedule? How about a month performing at half your productivity because you get a cold and can’t kick it?
Turns out that enough stress will make your body desperate for a way to relieve it, even if your brain doesn’t agree. If you’re freaking out for long enough, your body will actually suppress your immune system, which means you’ll not only be more likely to get sick, but you’ll take longer to fight it off. Working out will help limit the damage, but for those who are “too busy” to make time to hit the gym, your stress levels will cause your body to breakdown.
3. You’ll be prone to outbursts.
As an entrepreneur, you know how critical it is that you keep your cool no matter what happens. Over the course of a week, you may be subject to having a potential investor critique your business, a co-founder disagree with you about an important decision and a software failure. But throughout all of that, the worst thing you could possible do is lash out at the person or tool that’s frustrating you.
Related: 10 Effective Ways to Beat Stress
If you maintain a solid level of stress, you’ll wear away at your self-control and ability to maintain emotional stability, until one day you find yourself spouting water works — or breathing fire — at the worst possible moment.
Nobody expects being an entrepreneur to be a relaxing experience. It’s a tough road and one that you have to navigate yourself. However, that doesn’t mean that you should torture yourself. Find ways to combat your stress and know how to recover when you’ve had a particularly bad or hectic week or month.
Knowing how to pace yourself and let yourself rest will be key. Success in business is a long-term project, and you can’t hope to keep going at full steam the entire time.