10 ways merchants can (and should) lower their stress levels

Editorial Team

6 min read
Woman walking outdoors

Stressors are everywhere right now–especially at work. Labor shortages, inflation, economic instability, and the constantly changing situation of the Covid-19 pandemic are all contributing to this heightened stress. If you are feeling the stress of today’s shifting landscape, know you’re not alone.

Over 70% of Americans are experiencing stress that negatively affects their physical and mental health. Managing this stress in a work environment can be particularly difficult. Managers and small business owners are dealing with increased prices and supply chain uncertainty while their employees are dealing with an increasingly pressured public and feeling overworked due to labor shortages. 

Stress can have many negative health effects. Tension headaches, muscle aches, and joint pain are all related to the ways stress causes our bodies to tense up. Stress can also cause digestive distress, impair the immune system, and can cause poor sleep. Stress even affects the way we breathe, causing shortness of breath, increased blood pressure, and chest tightness. These  effects, when left unattended, can lead to serious long-term health problems. 

Figuring out how to relieve stress at work can feel like a losing battle when the main stressors are so far out of our control. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do at work to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. Here are 10 stress management tips to use yourself and share with your staff to help promote happiness and health in your workspace. 

1. Go outside

When the weather allows, finding ways to step outside during the workday can help you reset after stressful moments. Studies have found that just 10 minutes outside will begin to lower your blood pressure and improve your mood and focus. This is most effective when you are focused and present on the landscape around you (rather than checking emails on your phone). Try eating lunch outside or taking a 10-minute walk after work to help you decompress. 

2. Take breaks to breathe and stretch

Throughout the day, when you start to notice signs of acute stress such as a tight chest, jitters, or rapid uncontrollable thoughts, take a moment to regulate your mind and body. Gentle stretches, deep breathing, and any other purposeful movement can counteract the effects of stress on your nervous system and can help keep the physical effects of stress from becoming chronic. 

3. Avoid scrolling

While social media can be a fun way to distract yourself from work for a few minutes, the constant influx of content and the process of scrolling itself overstimulates your nervous system, contributing to feelings of stress and anxiety. Try to avoid scrolling through your phone at those times of day when you’re trying to unwind.

4. Automate and delegate stressful tasks

If you’ve noticed that there are specific tasks (such as making schedules or placing orders) that always cause you stress, it’s worth exploring ways to reduce the amount of time you spend on those tasks. Can you automate the task in some way? Is there another employee who can help you by taking on that task? Even taking one stressful thing off your plate can make a huge difference. So, see if one of your staff can help, and be sure to explore the Clover App Market for apps that could help automate troublesome tasks. 

5. Optimize the systems you already have in place

Sometimes, it isn’t enough to simply reduce your workload–especially if you still have to spend most of your time juggling complicated or stressful tasks that only you can do. Take scheduling, for example. Homebase is a great, free option to help business owners manage scheduling, timekeeping, and payroll all in one place. And don’t be afraid to rethink or replace the systems you have in place. If a system–like a payroll or accounting system–is causing hang ups in your workflow, time invested now in replacing could be time that reduces your stress in the future.

6. Stay connected

Prioritizing quality time with the people you care about can do wonders in reversing the negative effects of a stressful workday. What’s more, isolation can worsen the negative mental health effects of stress, leading to higher risks of anxiety and depression. Question the urge to focus even more on work when things get overwhelming. Set strong boundaries and communicate them to your staff. Prioritizing family dinner, time to join a club, or lunch with a friend can help you gain a sense of fulfillment outside of work and build resilience to stress. 

7. Smile, laugh, and move

Smiling, laughing, and moving release endorphins that act as mild antidepressants, pain relievers, and mood boosters. While forcing yourself to feel happy or to laugh is har, especially when you’re under pressure and over stressed, there are definitely ways you can “hack” your mental health. Make a playlist of songs that always make you want to dance, and give yourself a 5-minute dance break whenever you start to feel anxious. Or, listen to a funny podcast on your commute to and from work to get you laughing. Or, have a few funny videos or photos at the ready when you need a quick pick-me-up or smile–and look at them often.  

8. Reduce financial stress where you can

Managing finances can be one of the most stressful parts of running a small business–especially a new business. Finding ways to ease your financial worries can help tremendously in reducing stress. Clover offers apps that help you manage taxes, get quick access to cash, and keep your inventory in order. Quickbooks integrates into your POS and can help streamline multiple financial processes at once. 

9. Express gratitude

Actively practicing gratitude has many positive effects on our mental health and is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress in the workplace. Taking time to inventory all you’re thankful for at the start of the day or keeping notes around that remind you how far you’ve come are great ways to practice gratitude. Consider, too, the ways you can encourage gratitude within the workplace. Foster a culture of appreciation by demonstrating your appreciation in concrete ways for the work your employees do–and encourage them to do the same for their coworkers. 

10. Remember your purpose

If you’re feeling demotivated, consider redesigning your mental model. Reflecting on what drives you and what hinders you can help you redirect energy into more effective ways of accomplishing your goals. When feelings of hopelessness or disillusionment with the daily grind start to stress you out, take time out to reflect on your purpose and why you’re doing what you do could help you find what ignited the passion that led you to your current vocation–and it could be just what you need to keep going.

Learn more about how Clover is helping small businesses take the stress out of managing payments.

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

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