Stress And the Entrepreneur - Why All You Start-up Drivers Need to H.A.L.T.

When you build something, be it a 'fusilli Jerry' or a start-up company, it requires determination. As the founder, you have a horde of responsibilities the weight of King Kong sitting on your head. The nature of entrepreneurship brings about changes in your demeanour that seem alien at first and with time, start taking over.

If you are one such startup person who owns the fact that they get anxious easily, then you must understand what I am trying to tell you here- stress kills business like a daily dose of slow poison would.

Ultimately, there'll come the point where you will have reached the peak of your pressure-handling ability. What will follow is a string of bad decisions, an eruption of subdued, tightly capped spring of negative emotions, and well, Tartarus is the limit.

Only, the mind refuses to let go.

It's even severe if you naturally get stressed out about almost everything. As a person who runs a business, you have to interact with people, be they your clients or employees. Many times, you borrow stress from others, like say your staff, so that you could provide them with an environment where they are their creative best.

While the motivation here is noble, the approach is more self-destructive than helpful. Taking on tension can only work a few times. After a point, you'll be high on stress, low on patience, vulnerable to a large range of triggers and once all that's pent up inside you is unleashed on the outer world, God help your business.

H.A.L.T. Can Help

Since we are talking about approaches, H.A.L.T. seems like the right thing to mention. You see, there are reasons behind your frustration, agitation, unhappy manner, and unsure air. The prime one among those reasons is your inability to recognise which triggers put you on edge and which ones run you down the cliff. H.A.L.T. talks about four major triggers.

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

H.A.L.T. approach has proved helpful in many situations like parenting, self-care, addiction recovery, life recreation, and of course, stress management. This widely tested and appreciated framework talks about how any agony or distress, unrelated with the primary cause of your stress, can cause you to blast off in a fit of anger and take real bad decisions.

The idea is for you to recognise what makes you react. Once you learn to identify those response inducing situations, you can then learn to control your reactions and get the upper hand on the circumstances that poke your stressful self to show itself. What Hungry Means You skip meals. Or you don't eat well. Why- because you're busy. You have got work, too much to do, too much to take care of, and for other similar reasons. I do this, so do many entrepreneurs with a head full of ideas demanding to be implemented.

Hunger makes you cranky. However, it isn't always the lack of food or proper nutrition that pulls on your strings. You can be hungry for appreciation, or success, or recognition, or love, or attention, or just for companionship.

What hungry means in H.A.L.T. is to feel short of something. You feel like there is a particular sense that you should have achieved by the current point of time and yet you stay devoid of it. It drives you to feel unsatisfied, leads to extreme agitation, and you know where that train takes you.

What Angry Means

Anger is not the villain supremo of emotions. You are allowed to feel it and express it. The problem arises when your manner of expressing how or why you are angry turns into a destructive bag of reactions.

Consider your angry self versus your calm self. You'll see how the displeased you appears more primal, how you lose control for a matter of seconds over your words or actions.

The expression of anger might not be this extreme for you, but the sense of losing authority over your reaction stays the common factor in all incidences where boiling irritation comes out.

Criticising or belittling the poor dears who you happen to be angry on might not always be justified. Physical violence isn't. H.A.L.T. asks you to identify how anger changes you and then control that aspect of your personality. The point here is to express your anger in a constructive way, thus giving you the advantage of well-spent emotion without giving you the guilt of ruining somebody's day.

What Lonely Means

When you lead, you develop a support system of sorts around you. However, at the end of the day, you are the one taking the tough decisions. Ergo, at some point or other, just like every other leader, you will feel lonely.

Apart from the loneliness that arises from being at a level where you lack peers and responsibility overwhelm you, there is another brand of lonely. It is possible that reaching out is hard for you. Maybe, you see isolation as a tool for survival or progress. Or perhaps, you are stuck in a situation where either you don't know how to ask for help or can't find someone with whom you can talk.

Look harder. It is imperative that you find a mentor or a trusted person and have an open conversation about matters that bother you. Even if you aren't the talkative kind, it is essential to lay some of that stress down, put it aside, and walk away with a clear head, if only for a few hours. Curing lonely is about changing perspective, gaining a fresh one, reaching out, and making time for things that make you 'you'.

What Tired Means

An exhausted professional is in no way a productive one. Pulling all-nighters might seem like a feat at the moment, but it won't when you are unable to stand upright the next morning for a critical meeting. Pushing through things that block your way is a good habit. However, there is only so much that you can handle. Lack of enough rest affects your ability to function, and it gets you back on the track of bad decisions.

H.A.L.T. is about Conscious Control

And an entrepreneur runs on the power of self-control. When your actions aren't a result of over-anxious impulses, you don't react to the illusion of separation or scarcity. You don't take offence on every other word, and you don't feel the need to defend your words or actions. So, the next time you feel like a wrong decision is about to happen, wait, think. Access your H.A.L.T. situation. Kill the quake before it hits anybody.