Stress and Overwork in Small Business–Preserving Your Health

In a fast-paced business environment, it’s easy for ambitious entrepreneurs to push themselves to the point that they neglect their own health. So how do you combat overwhelming stress and overwork in business? First, learn to identify the symptoms.

Do you often find yourself

Unable to focus. What was I working on again?

Easily distracted. Any extra stimuli affects your attention span significantly.

Irritable. Clients you usually enjoy are getting under your skin.

Avoiding tasks you usually enjoy. You’re pushing off projects to the very last moment.

Lacking motivation. You’re usually excited to work for and continue to grow your business but lately, you daydream about taking another path.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a stressed and overworked entrepreneur. So, how do you combat this?

Small Business Owners and Work-Life Balance

Recent studies have linked working too much to a slew of health problems—everything from depression and sleep disorders to alcoholism, memory loss, and heart disease. Establishing a healthy work-life balance is critical to preserving your sanity, your business, and your health.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries can be applied to all aspects of your business life, but the most important boundaries to set as an entrepreneur are those pertaining to the hours you work. We’ve all had desperate periods in which we’re forced to work around the clock and sacrifice personal time, but when you attempting to sustain that pace, you leave yourself sleep deprived and absolutely exhausted. Set the following boundaries for your work life.

  • Work Hours: Set distinct work hours, and adhere to them. Stick to your schedule, and learn to take advantage of your personal time.
  • Space: Leave your work at your workplace. Whether you work in your home or at a collaborative office space, try to limit how much work you bring home with you.

Take Time Off

Because our smartphones enable us to take work wherever we go, it can be easy to return a client’s call, answer an email, or complete another quick work task when we’re supposed to be off. Value your personal time, and honor the commitment you made to yourself.

Marianne O’Connor, CEO of Sterling Communications, a 25-employee company with offices in Silicon Valley and Seattle, says, “There’s no overarching secret to balancing work time with personal time, except making it a priority. Before, I didn’t consciously think about how I was spending my spare time. But I’ve learned that you have to take care of yourself first, or everything else gets out of whack.”


It’s critical to understand the difference between the tasks that only you can perform and tasks that you can ask someone else to take care of. Delegation is an important tool, all too often not utilized by entrepreneurs.

Delegation is neither a sign of laziness or irresponsibility, it’s an essential function of smooth and successful management. Spending your valuable time on tasks that can be done by your capable team members decreases your productivity and negatively affects your health.

Achieving work-life balance is difficult, but it isn’t impossible. By setting your boundaries, taking time off for yourself, and learning to delegate tasks and responsibilities, you’ll be able to preserve your business and your health, while combatting stress and overwork in business.

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