On Stress and Anxiety

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One of the challenging parts about starting anything new is that you are venturing into the unknown and inevitably there will be unknown-unknowns that you will face in the process.

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

– Donald Rumsfeld, former United States Secretary of Defense (February 12, 2002)

The lessons may or may not be painful depending on how you look at it but one thing is for sure: you will go through them. One of the biggest challenges that I have felt is the overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety that comes with running a business that spans United States. With operations in different time zones it can become very easy to get caught in the trap of working around the clock. It is very easy to get caught up in responding to emails at 6AM Eastern standard time and working until 6 or 7 PM Pacific standard time on a given day.

The lesson is that one needs to be disciplined with his or her time in order to avoid the inevitable burn out that will transpire by overextending oneself for a prolonged period of time.

Below are a there tools I have been using to cope with these situations:

  1. Hobbies
  2. Meditation
  3. Gratitude

The first tool I have been using is by returning to my childhood hobby of bodybuilding and having time away from the business to recuperate, reinvigorate, and refresh. There is nothing better than having a hobby outside of your career to help you breakaway and rest. It is said that growth happens during the periods of rest and not during the periods of execution. Having a healthy balance (whatever that means for you) is a way to ensure you stay in the game versus feeling burnt out. While this is a great way to break away from the day to day activities, there is another tool that you can incorporate in the midst of the day to day chaos: meditation.

Meditation has helped me become more productive as I take time to pause in between the different situations we are dealing with. A useful way of getting into meditation is by learning the 4-7-8 breathing technique by Dr. Weil. My girlfriend taught me this a few months ago and it has been instrumental in helping me feel more grounded in the present moment. Plus it helps put me to sleep when thoughts are racing through my head before laying down for the evening. Also, there is no need to complicate things- meditation can just mean going for a walk around the neighborhood and just observing what is going on or simply watching your breath, the point is to recenter and ground yourself proactively versus allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on.

Lastly, the third tool I recently learned about (drumroll please…) is the use of gratitude. By being proactive about what I focus on (e.g. the things, people, and situations I am grateful for) it helps with training my brain to focus on the things that are going right versus the sirrational that are forcing me to grow, as we alluded to earlier, that are inevitable in the process (did you catch that subtle reframe? Haha). I am far from perfect and I feel that practicing gratitude has at least helped alleviate some of the gut wrenching anxiety I experience and the ocassional insomnia/sleep apnea that comes with this journey.

I hope this is useful to someone who may be going through the same experiences and hope that I can at least make the process more manageable for others who are choosing the path of entrepreneurship.

As the daily checklist looms in the horizon I feel a certain level of presence I experience when I train at odd hours in the night. With that being said, it’s 3:00AM EST and I am now leaving the gym and am headed home to sleep for a few hours. Grind hard and stay strong!

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