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How I manage business stress

'If I'm really struggling I'll do the one thing I could never do in an office - take a 30 minute power nap. I always feel super-charged afterwards and even slightly smug that there's no-one to lecture me on being indulgent.'
Janelle Carrigan, Royall Media

Top tips

  • Remind yourself why you started your business
  • Enjoy the busy times, work will slow down again
  • Seek advice or just talk about your issues with a friend
  • Include exercise in your daily tasks
  • Take a power nap

Freelance writer Janelle Carrigan on how she, and other small business owners, deal with business stress.

Keeping perspective - remember your passion

The reason many of us embark on self-employment is that we have passion for our profession. That can get lost in the rush to meet deadlines, pitch for new projects and file tax statements. 'It's part of me,' says Terry Bahat, a certified personal trainer and health coach, of her business CoreWorks. It's hard to fake enthusiasm meeting clients several times a week for months or years at a time. Terry was born in Israel and spent several years in the army transforming 18-year-old new female recruits into confident soldiers. She still gets professional and personal satisfaction watching clients build their strength and confidence. 'It's important to do what I like, it keeps me going,' she says. 'You can't fake that.'

Find a friend or mentor to be a sounding board

Designer Jody Kahlon tailor-makes distinctive womenswear and runs her own store featuring her beautifully crafted work. Fashion is tough, not only for its retail competitiveness but for the creative self-doubt that can plague designers. Despite years in the business, Jody admits there's days when she questions herself. But she keeps it in check with weekly catch-ups with a friend who has been in fashion for decades. 'I call her my muse,' says Jody. 'She knows me really well, she knows my style. She tells me I'm not crazy and to keep going!' Despite training others, Terry sees her own personal trainer every week and will also consult with a health coach every month or so to discuss her coaching methods and get feedback. 'You have to be accountable to someone.'

Work out your stresses with exercise

Jody walks her energetic English Pointer once or twice a day and rides her bike to do the supermarket shopping. 'I see a personal trainer twice a week at a local park, regardless of the weather. There are times when I stress about finding the time, but I feel mentally sharper after a workout. I also have the Time Out app that fades my screen at set times to prompt me to step away from the computer for a few minutes.'

Take time out with a power naps

When there's work to do but the mind isn't willing, the siren's call of the television can be strong. But I've made a pact with myself to never turn it on during the work day. If I'm really struggling I'll do the one thing I could never do in an office - take a 30 minute power nap. I always feel super-charged afterwards and even slightly smug that there's no-one to lecture me on being indulgent.

The result

Remembering why you started your own business, having mentors to encourage you and keeping healthy are the ways small business owners keep going when the going gets tough.