Being an independent practice owner is tremendously rewarding but also can be very stressful and requires a lot of hard work. Where many tend to struggle, however, is when it comes to working too much, putting their work before their health and not handling stress properly. The bad thing about stress is if you don’t take care of it, it will take care of itself usually in the form of sickness and even death. How can business owners better handle their stress?

Dr. Alok Trivedi is a human behavior and performance expert, author of the book ‘Chasing Success’ and founder of the Aligned Performance Institute.

Here are his 12 tips for entrepreneurs to better handle stress:

  • Stress will kill you: So many entrepreneurs put in 16 or more hours each and every day to build their dream, and they’re literally killing themselves. Stress is a real serious problem that leads to mental and physical health problems. If you don’t learn to slowdown and recognize stress, your body will ultimately do it for you.
  • Take breaks: Everyone, even the hardest working entrepreneurs out there, need to take breaks throughout the day. Your body can’t perform at it’s best if you are constantly tired, overworked and running on fumes. Even small 10 to 15-minute breaks throughout the day can do wonders for your mind and body. Remember, lunch isn’t always about eating, and it needs to be a mandatory rest period you take advantage of each and every day.
  • Don’t become a multitasker: Our society thrives on being able to do more with less. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things anyone can do and will increase your stress faster than anything else. Instead, focus on completing one task at a time. Not only will the quality of your work improve, you’ll make fewer mistakes and get more accomplished in the long run.
  • Become a master delegator: So many entrepreneurs live by the phrase, “I have so much to do.” But guess what? You don’t have to do it all. If you find too much on your plate and your stress building, it’s time to delegate some of your work to other people on your team. Remember, entrepreneurship is a team effort, and we are in the age of collaboration.
  • Know that you are not invincible: I was talking with a very successful entrepreneur recently, and honestly, I was concerned about him. He thought he was invincible. Two weeks later he was in the hospital recovering from exhaustion, dehydration and high blood pressure. If you don’t take steps to reduce your stress, it will sneak up on you and take you down no matter how great a business you run.
  • Make time for fun: Whatever your definition of fun is, make time for it. It can be playing golf, hanging out with friends, spending time with family or whatever. Everyone, especially the hardest workers among us, need time to have fun. If you’re constantly working and not enjoying your life, what’s the point?
  • Play the 80/20 rule of energy: Give everything you do your maximum effort. Envision a meter that slowly builds as your energy depletes. Once the meter hits 80%, it’s time to let the mind and body recover. Remember, focusing on your health and well-being is one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur. We all need to take time to disconnect and recharge in order to perform at our best.
  • Change your breathing: One of the best ways to relieve stress is to breathe properly. Most people take very quick and shallow breaths through their chest. Instead, the proper way is to breathe through the diaphragm (belly area). Inhale to the count of seven, hold for seven seconds, and slowly exhale to the count of seven. Do this a few times in a row and you will feel your stress diminish.
  • Diet and exercise are as important as ever: It should be common knowledge by now the importance of diet and exercise, but so many people, especially entrepreneurs, get this one wrong. They say they are too busy to eat right and hit the gym while downing fast food and sitting in front of the computer all day. Diet and exercise need to be a priority in order to alleviate stress and be your best in business and life.
  • Let your work fulfill you: Anyone can start a business, but not everyone can find true fulfillment in their work. When you find fulfilment in what you do, the state of your mental health will be much better off, and your stress will be much less. Not only that, but that fulfillment will rub off on everything else you do, and your overall level of happiness will be at an all-time high.
  • Get more sleep: Your brain can’ t process high levels of information without the rest it needs. Without quality sleep, your body and your work will fall apart. Your ability to manage stress decreases drastically when you don’t sleep properly.
  • Be realistic: If you think a project you are working on is going to become the next Facebook, Uber or other big thing, it’s more than likely a fantasy most novice businessowners try to believe. That doesn’t mean not to aim big, but it’s wiser to play your own game and take the right strides to make your business efficient and grow methodically. Doing so will keep your stress in check.


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Physicians are pressured to both serve patients and keep up with the demands of an evolving healthcare system. Keeping yourself in the right frame of mind, while maintaining productivity, is essential to providing excellent care, and maintaining a profitable practice. Here are key ways to assess your stress level, and how to keep your workload, and life responsibilities, manageable.

One of your staff just called in sick. Your first patient is 20 minutes late. The electricity just went out, and the electric company does not know when it will be restored. An angry patient just walked through your front door wondering out loud where her glasses are and why did your staff not call to let her know that they would be late. Your stress levels are just about maxed out.

So, what is stress? Here’s a definition:“Stress is defined as an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures. When stress was first studied in the 1950s, the term was used to denote both the causes and the experienced effects of these pressures. More recently, however, the word “stressor” has been used for the stimulus that provokes a stress response. One recurrent disagreement among researchers concerns the definition of stress in humans. Is it primarily an external response that can be measured by changes in glandular secretions, skin reactions, and other physical functions, or is it an internal interpretation of, or reaction to, a stressor; or is it both?”

Stress is part of life. Some stress is good, most stress is bad – especially chronic stress. We all respond to stress in different ways. Because of the variability in types and causes of stress, scientists have had a difficult time agreeing on definitions and even measurement tools. Very few of the measurement tools for stress have been validated.

We found an interesting web site that makes a good effort at measuring stress. This web site gives multiple stress measurement tools. We’ll just highlight two of them. The 360 Assessment looks at lifestyle, occupation, attitude and diet to determine overall stress, then provides tips and resources based on your score. The AIS Workplace Stress Survey serves as a simple screening measure determining the need for further investigation with more comprehensive assessments.

Once you’ve identified that you have stress that is negatively impacting your life, then you need to positively manage the stress. Here are 15 scientifically backed ways to de-stress. You can read more about each of these techniques, and more, by going to the article.
1. Go for a 10 minute walk.
2. Breathe deeply.
3. Use the power of “guided imagery” to elicit a relaxation response.
4. Eat a healthy snack
5. Buy yourself a plant.
6. Step away from the screen.
7. Kiss someone.
8. Turn off your phone.
9. Put on some music.
10. Use a web-based stress management program.
11. Chew gum.
12. Watch a viral video.
13. Use progressive muscle relaxation.
14. Spend time with your best friend.
15. Eat a banana.

Everyone has different ways to deal with stress. If your way is not working, then try something new from the list above.



Dr. Wright is the founding partner of a nine-partner, three-location full-scope optometric practice. As CEO of Pathways to Success, an internet-based practice management firm, he works with practices of all sizes. He is faculty coordinator for Ohio State’s leading practice management program.


Dr. Burns is the senior partner of a nine-doctor full-scope optometric practice that she built with her husband, Dr. Wright. She is also the COO of a state-wide nursing care optometry practice. Dr. Burns lectures nationally on practice management and staffing issues. Dr. Burns authored the Specialty Practice section of the textbook, Business Aspects of Optometry.


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