How to Avoid Letting Stress Take Over Your Life While stress is impossible to avoid, it doesn't need to become a permanent houseguest.

By Lisa Evans

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Being an entrepreneur often means accepting stress as part of your life – like an un-liked uncle at the dinner table. While stress is impossible to avoid, it doesn't need to become a permanent houseguest. Here's how to avoid letting stress take over your life.

Be social.

A landmark UCLA study in 2000 showed that having a circle of friends provided an alternative to the body's normal flight-or-fight stress response. The study was conducted on women and showed that when women gathered with other women they released more oxytocin, the mother-love hormone that is often associated with breastfeeding – a hormone that has a very calming effect.

A 2011 study of both sexes published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that, during stressful times, being around a best friend decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Social connections promote a sense of belonging, help to ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation, promote an increased sense of self-worth and a feeling of security; something all entrepreneurs can use, especially when going through trying times in their business. Make time in your schedule to have lunch with a friend, volunteer for a local organization or create opportunities for social interaction in your company.

Related: 3 Signs That You Need a Vacation, Now

Write in a journal.

Research on college students has found that journal writing is a form of emotional release. One study published in the Journal Psychological Science in 2012 showed writing thoughts down on paper then throwing them in the garbage is an effective way to clear the mind. Writing down negative thoughts may be one way to clear your mind of stress, but jotting down positive thoughts in a gratitude journal is also a worthwhile exercise. Feelings of thankfulness, it turns out, are also effective in helping to cope with stress. If you find keeping a journal too tedious, just take a few minutes each day to jot down three things you're grateful for.

Build a daily meditation practice into your schedule.

Mindfulness meditation has become a buzzword in stress and depression literature and has been shown to provide many cognitive benefits including improving attention and increasing grey matter density in the brain. A 2013 study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day is all you need to quiet the mind in stressful situations.

Related: 5 Reasons You Need to Get a Walking Desk Right Now

Change your diet.

Eating the right foods can reduce your stress and put you in a better mood. Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, grapefruit and strawberries and magnesium-rich foods such as spinach and pumpkin seeds can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Magnesium combined with vitamin B6 (found in spinach) produces serotonin – the body's natural "feel good" hormone. While many of us head for the sweets tray when stressed, high-glycemic index carbs such as muffins and donuts do boost serotonin levels quickly, giving us that instant pick-me-up but the effect is short lived. Choosing whole grain carbs such as oatmeal, whole wheat toast or air-popped popcorn boost serotonin levels without putting you on a blood sugar roller-coaster. You only need 30 grams of carbohydrates to get the serotonin effect.

Catch up on your sleep.

Getting sufficient sleep is important in promoting recovery for your body and mind, which can help you to get through stressful situations.

Get physical.

It's true. Exercise can be relaxing! Regular aerobic exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for what's known as the "runner's high" and the feelings of relaxation and optimism that come after a workout.

Related: Overwhelmed? Overworked? The Cure for Work Overload.

Lisa Evans is a health and lifestyle freelance journalist from Toronto.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business News

'It's Getting Worse By the Week': Kevin O'Leary Issues Grave Warning About Commercial Real Estate Industry

The "Shark Tank" star spoke to impending devaluation of stocks in the industry on FOX Business' "Varney & Co."

Data & Recovery

Invest in This IT Education Bundle While it's Only $50

Train your team on IT and cybersecurity fundamentals with this limited-time deal

Business Plans

Want to Know If You Have a Great Business Idea? Ask Yourself These 10 Questions.

Business expert Eric Butow gives you a list of probing questions to help you analyze your idea in the new book "Write Your Own Business Plan."

Buying / Investing in Business

Why Entrepreneurs Swear by WELD as the Secret to Maximizing Wealth

Write-Offs, Exit value, Lower taxes, Depreciation: Use the WELD method's transformative principles for unmatched entrepreneurial wealth.

Business News

Walgreens' Battle Over High-Tech Cooler Doors Heats Up

The lawsuit, initially filed in June, is seeking $200 million in damages.


How to Balance Entrepreneurship and Family Life in 2023 and Beyond

Our evolved definition of success underscores the undeniable importance of mental and physical well-being.