S M A L L - B U S I N E S S - P R O B L E M - N U M B E R - 8


How to handle stress, worry & fatigue generated by your business ambitions

Some worry can be useful. Worry about your health may make you eat less or go to see a doctor. Worry about your slim bank balance, may make you earn more or spend less.

But worries may also just nag and distract you, getting you nowhere. With most people this happens all too often. They worry, but do not act to remove the worry. So the worry grows, and gets out of control

When stress and worry hurt you.

Such worries cause illness. Worry sends up your blood pressure, which causes headaches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Worry strains your heart, which may cause a heart attack. Worry causes indigestion, heart-burn, and stomach ulcers, and interferes with your breathing rhythm, your blood then gets less oxygen so that you get tired faster. The list goes on and on.

Worry affects you mind as well. The worried man thinks of nothing but his worries, he finds it hard to concentrate, his memory fails him. He has trouble falling asleep at night, and trouble getting up in the mornings. He cannot plan, or think up new ideas. He does not laugh heartily, and finds it hard to enjoy himself and relax. In the end he has a nervous breakdown.

All of us worry from time to time. The wise ones learn how to use worry to goad them into action. How to do this is the subject of this reading.

Don't invite worries.

If you do not want to worry you must make sure that your way of life does not invite worry. So do not tackle tasks for which you are not equipped. You will fail, and failure will lead to worry. Do not desire things that are out of your reach, this will lead to worry. Do not worry about things you can do nothing about. You will grow old, you will die one day, these things are set and fixed. Learn to accept them. Worry only about those things you can do something about. Finally, build up strong defenses against worry. The main defense is to ensure that you have enough energy.

Worry and fatigue.

Relaxed, you cannot worry; worried you cannot relax. Most people are more worried by late afternoon, when they are tired after a day's work, than they are when they wake up, refreshed in the mornings. The lesson here, is to see to it that you never allow your batteries to run flat. Charge them before you are left without power.

Rest before you get tired?

The workday at schools and universities is divided into periods, with short breaks in between. In the Army, too, there are 5 minutes rest breaks every hour to enable military trainees to relax briefly. Workers in mines and steel mills are given regular periods off. The aim of these breaks is to prevent people from becoming tired.

Five minutes' rest every hour is better than 15 minutes every three hours; this, in turn is better than half an hour every six hours. The reason is that short breaks prevent fatigue. And prevention is better than cure.

Research has shown that if you sleep for an hour or so around 5, 6, or 7 o'clock in the evening, you can do with 2 hours less sleep at night. A 10 minute nap after lunch will make you feel fresher the rest of the afternoon. You can do with half an hour less sleep at night if you sleep after lunch.

Sir Winston Churchill was in his seventies during the Second World War. Yet he worked twelve or more hours a day while he directed the British war effort. But he rested often. He worked in bed each morning until around 11.00 am, holding conferences, making telephone calls, reading memos, dictating letters. After lunch he went to bed again and slept soundly for about one hour. After a hard afternoon, he slept for another two hours before going to dinner at 8.00 pm.

President John F. Kennedy had a swim in the White House swimming pool every day at noon. He then worked for 2 hours, through a light lunch, and left his Oval Office at around 2.30 p.m. to sleep upstairs for two hours. Mr. Kennedy knew how to prevent fatigue by relaxing before he become tired.

Relax as you work?

Mental work by itself does not make you tired; physical work does. The blood of someone who has done manual labor for hours, is dirty. It is full of fatigue toxins, impurities that make us feel tired. But blood passing through an active brain comes out clean on the other side.

The fatigue the office worker feels after a day at his desk is caused not by the work his brain did, but by emotional factors. Main amongst these is, boredom, anger, worry, stress and tension.

You can decrease fatigue by decreasing your boredom, anger, worry, stress and tension. Remember that a tense muscle is a working muscle. You can save energy by seeing to it that your body is not tenser than it needs to be.

Have you discovered, on some days that you were totally tensed up, your jaws clenched, your shoulders hunched, your mouth pursed, your forehead wrinkled, your back stiffened? Perhaps you were able suddenly to let go, to relax all those muscles? What you should strive for is to "let go" the whole time.

Make it a habit to un-tense every hour, on the hour perhaps. Close your eyes for 15 or 20 seconds, and feel the muscles around the eye relax. Stop straining, stop frowning, and don't squint. Just imagine that there is a tiny pool of cool water lying on top of each closed eye, and relax that eye. If you can relax your eyes you are winning, as they burn up about 25% of the nervous energy consumed by the body. If your eyes are tired, you are tired.

Time Management - Success begins with time management! Get organized, unclutter your life and start profiting from your efforts. This technique of time management has to be developed. Success comes to those people who can manage their time according to their priorities. It is due to the fact that they can finish doing important tasks at a certain period of time without rushing things and without becoming reckless. Read more.


On falling asleep?

Your body knows how much sleep it needs, and under normal conditions it will take what it requires.

Some people do not need much sleep. In the World War, Paul Kern, a Hungarian soldier, received a bullet in his brain. He recovered, but could not sleep. No matter what the doctors did, he could not sleep. He would lie down at night and rest, but he did not sleep. Yet he took a job and lived a normal life for many years.

The well-known South African authoress, Mrs. Sarah Gertrude Millin, claimed that in over 50 years, right up to her death in the sixties, she never once enjoyed a half hour of unbroken sleep. She did sleep at night, but she was never asleep for more than a few minutes at the longest. Despite that, Mrs. Millin wrote many novels, as well as biographies of Mr. Cecil John Rhodes and General Smuts.

So, do not worry if you get little sleep. You probably require little, as the conductor Toscanini did, and he managed on five hours, and Napoleon, who said he needed four hours per night. Nor need you feel ashamed if you sleep a lot. You probably require it. A former president of the United States, Mr. Calvin Coolidge, slept eleven hours each day. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, here are some hints.

  • First, don't worry about it. If you worry, you get tense and you drive sleep even further away. You body gets almost as much good out of your just lying there, relaxing, than it would get from actual sleep.

  • Second, get a good position, preferably on your back, with legs slightly apart and arms at your sides. Put a pillow under your knees to relax tension, if you wish, tuck small pillows under the arms if that helps.

  • Third, relax your muscles. One way to do this is to talk your body asleep. In fact, an American medical writer, Dr. David Fink, states that this is the best way. When you cannot call asleep at night, so says Dr. Fink, it is because you have talked yourself into thinking that you can't. So you have to talk yourself out of it again. You have to tell your body, limb by limb, to relax. You may start with your feet, telling yourself in a whisper that you can feel them growing limp and heavy and relaxed; then work up through the legs, arms, and torso to your head. If you train yourself, says Dr. Fink, you can learn to fall asleep in less than 5 minutes, even if it takes an hour now.
  • Fourth, set up some bedtime habits. It helps if you go to bed at the same time every night, and do the same things in the same order before retiring. For example, you go to bed at 11.00 p.m. each night. Before you retire, you put out the cat, take a breath of fresh air outside, lock up, have a glass of hot milk, read for 10 minutes, and then turn out the light. The regular routine helps relax you and invites sleep.

Worry and money.

Most people worry about money because they do not have enough. Usually the worry comes from having spent too much in the past, and now having to find money to pay for that extravagance. A Gallup Poll in the U.S. found that most people believed that their financial worries would be over if only they could increase their income by 10%, and most people would no longer worry about money. They may still wish they had more, but they would not worry.

The secret of stretching money.

If you feel that you cannot manage on your income, there are two things to do.

  • First, cut your expenses and save more.

  • Second, increase your income.

Now most people do not want to spend less; they just want to earn more. Unfortunately it is usually more time consuming to earn more. You can spend less as from tomorrow, and your budget will reflect it immediately. But you cannot immediately earn more; this takes time.

We now look at 3 money-stretching ideas.

  • Write down your expenses.

  • Write down at the end of each day what you have spent, and on what. Be precise down to the last cent.

  • Then look at each item and see whether you really needed it, couldn't you have done without this new-fangled razor? Whether you paid the lowest price for it, isn't this brush cheaper at the supermarket than at the chemist. And whether you could not have spent the money better, wouldn't that $8.00 spent on the cinema ticket have given more pleasure if you had bought a soft-cover book?

Your written record will tell you exactly where your money went. In most cases, you will be surprised at the waste.

Decrease your expenses?

You can enjoy more things, and spend less, it you give thought to a few simple points. These points form the basis of cost management in all good firms. Here are 3 simple recommendations.

  • Buy fewer things. Do not buy a new item if the old one can quickly and cheaply be repaired; do not replace something that still gives good service simply because it has gone out of fashion; buy only things that are well made and will last. Look after what you have by cleaning it regularly, repairing any defects, and using it in the way the manufacturers recommend.

  • Before buying anything, ask yourself, can I really not manage without it? Look around your house. How many things are there that you have used only a few times, or never at all?

  • Buy cheaply. Find out where the cheapest places to buy food, appliances, and clothes are, and buy there only. Can you not save by buying a dozen instead of two of their units; do you buy at sales and from discount offers when possible?

In this connection; a word about hire purchase. Hire purchase is expensive, you pay up to 24% interest on the money you owe. And the items can be taken back the moment you default. Rather save your money in a savings account, where it will earn interest, until when you can buy what you need for cash, and walk off with a cash discount at the same time.

Use what you have. Waste not, want not.

If you look after your clothes, they will last longer and continue to look smart. If you are a housewife, do you use all the money saving tricks to save costs on food, furniture, and home appliances? If you don't know what these tricks are, go to your library. Your librarian should be able to recommend good books on the subject. If your have your own business especially watch for waste caused by your staff.

Never throw away anything before you have made certain that you cannot use it in some other way.

Increase your income.

This, of course, is what all of us want to do. And this is the hardest thing of all. Or is it? Perhaps you should start off in all modesty. Do not think of doubling your income within a month. It can be done, and has been done. But it calls for hard work and luck.

Rather look around to see whether there are ways in which you can increase your income by 10% or 15% per month. This is a solid enough increase.

Basically there are four ways as an employee, in which you can increase your income. They are:

  • Work overtime. But be careful about how much overtime you put in. That extra money will not make you happier if it means being away from your family and friends most of the time. Money cannot compensate for lost friendship, and parental duties forsaken.

  • Earn money at home. Do part-time typing, or translation, or teaching. What about part-time selling, books, appliances, insurance, or money from a hobby such as photography, woodwork, boat building, or the raising of pets? Check our web page on Work at Home - Business Opportunities.

  • Get a different job. Are your talents and qualifications used fully in your present job? If not, shouldn't you change your job? But do not change your job before you have looked at all the facts, and are certain that you are doing the right thing. Visit our web page on new employment opportunities

  • Get a better job. This does not mean the same as the point above. You get a better job when you do more skilled work, and carry more responsibility. To do this you usually have to increase your qualifications, or show your boss that you are a real go-getter. Why not consider some extra studying? Visit our education page.

To show your boss that you are worth promotion calls for better work, more energy, new ideas, and an ability to learn and improve.

So, the above points are your tools to deal with worries about money. If you use them you will not worry about something that is not worth worrying about.

Of course if you start you own business you will, if you plan correctly, definitely earn more. The old adage reminds us that you never get rich working for someone else.

Analyze your worries.

In the previous paragraphs we have seen how you can steel yourself against worries by keeping your body rested and your mind alert. We have also looked at how to deal with the main source of worry and stress, and worry about money

Let us now try to find out how to deal with unpleasant things that are inevitable.

Life takes strange turns. We do not always get what we expect; we do not always receive what we want. Good things turn out; the unexpected event is always around the corner.

When their plans don't work out, most people become unhappy, and then worry. This is understandable. But it is foolish. One true test of a great man is not how many successes he has, but how he deals with those disappointments that he cannot avoid.

There is a simple way to stop worrying about a misfortune that you cannot avoid. It is this, accept it. Accept what cannot be avoided and you banish worry from your mind.

Yet, simple as it is, it is not easy to put into practice. At least, most people do not find it easy. You need to train yourself in this. But with practice comes skill. Whenever you are worried about something that you cannot change, accept the fact. Here is a simple three-step plan in which to do it. It works. Try it for yourself:

If it is something that you fear may come to pass, ask yourself what is the worst that can possibly happen. If it is something that has already happened, ask yourself what is the worst result that can possibly flow from it.

  • Prepare yourself to accept the worst. Think about it as if the worst has happened.

  • Then spend your time on thinking up plans to improve on the worst.

  • Worries disappear when they are analyzed. Worries loom as vague threatening outlines, dark shapes that steal around in the twilight zones of our minds. Capture these worries, measure and weigh them, decide where to put them and they won't know where to attack you.

  • Consider taking some advice and help in learning how to handle stress. Click Here to get the FREE Ecourse
  • How can you handle panic or anxiety attacks? Click Here!

There are three steps in problem analysis.

They are, collection of facts, analysis of facts, and reaching a decision. After the decision comes action. This gives you a four-pronged approach to capture and tame or skin any worry monster that prowls around in you mind. Here is your plan of attack.

  • Collect the facts. Worried about something? Yes, but about what? Define your worry: write down what you fear. A problem well stated is a problem half solved. Then collect the facts that have a bearing on your problem. Do not do a thing before you have all the relevant facts before you.

  • Analyze the facts. Decide what each fact implies; pick the important ones from the unimportant ones. Write down different solutions to your problem. List the advantages and disadvantages of each; compare them and see which will serve you best.

  • Reach a decision, but do not rush it. If necessary, go back and collect more facts. But reach your decision as soon as you can and make it a firm decision. Act, do not delay. Do not fret about whether the decision was right.

  • Keep busy. In the heat of the Second World War, Sir Winston Churchill was asked whether he was not distraught with worry. "No", he replied, "I am too busy. I have no time for worry." Being busy leaves no time for worries. The reason? It is impossible to think of more than one thing at a time. Try it out. Close your eyes, and see if you can think of Table Mountain and what you are going to do tomorrow. You'll find that you could think of either, one after the other, but not of both at the same time.

    This law applies to all your thoughts. You cannot think about one thing and at the same time worry about something else. So, whenever you worry, get busy. Do things that you should have done long ago; tackle jobs that you have been meaning to do but for which you have never had the time. See to it that you do not have idle moments. Become idle, and you invite worries. As the great British dramatist George Bernard Shaw wrote: "The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. Give yourself no leisure for worrying."

    The power of positive thinking.

    The five words above form the title of a book by an Amercan minister of religion, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. The book made Dr. Peale famous the world over. It says that we can achieve great results by thinking positive thoughts. In fact, Dr. Peale believes that the thoughts make the man. This is how he put it, "You are not what you think you are but what you think, you are."

    This is not a new idea. Many thinkers have come to the same conclusion, long before Dr. Peale. Two thousand years ago the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote: "Our life is what our thoughts make it." Two hundred years ago Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "A man is what he thinks about all day long." If you think happy thoughts, you will be happy. If you think cowardly thoughts, you will be a coward. What you think, you are.

    How does this help you to deal with worry? It is simple. Be positive in you thoughts. Enjoy humor, notice the good in others, banish hate and resentment. Fill your mind with the images of love, strength, and generosity. This is what positive thinking means; and its power is very, very great.

    Worry can help you achieve the best in life, if it spurs you on to action; but it can wreck you, if you allow it to become your master.

    Worry is like a great force of nature, such as a river. As long as the river flows within its banks, it can irrigate lands and drive power stations. But when it spills over its banks it destroys. Use worry to supply you with energy for action. Never allow it to overrun and destroy you.
    Here are some tools, tried and tested, for helping you to create a healthy, anxiety-free life.

    The above information formed part of a lecture based on notes kindly provided by the University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town South Africa, and given each year to the final year students at Cape Town Academy undertaking the course in Small Business Management.

"Back to Business Problems for the Small Business Page"


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