Jason wrote that spending time with friends is the ultimate cure for startup stress:
We headed over to Mike’s hotel, and along with my wife, Loren Feldman, Scott from ThisNext, Brooke from MySpace, and Tyler from Mahalo settled in for a great meal. No stress, lots of laughing, good food, and big smiles when the digital cameras popped out.
Which lead me to realize what the greatest tool for managing stress in the world is: your friends. Fred Wilson point this out in the comments of my last post on “death by blogging/stress,” so it was brewing in the back of my head and last night confirmed it.
And I have to agree.. my friends and what I do with them are the greatest stress relievers in my life.
I’ve been working for myself, in some way, shape, or form, since I left college in 1996. And while that sort of ongoing freelance/startup life has its benefits – it’s never fun to have to deal with the stress inherent in that sort of lifestyle. Particularly when you’re launching a new business or working with a ton of clients with very high expectations.
On top of that, I’ve spent the bulk of the last 22 months in graduate school – which thankfully will be ending quite soon – so my average day can be 12-16 hours between work, class, homework, and client work – and my weekends are really not that much different.
There’s a couple things that I make sure that I do in order to appropriately manage my stress level:
- Take breaks: It’s good to get away from what you’re doing regularly. Go watch Battlestar Galactica. Talk a walk. Chat with a neighbor. Or just make a cup of hot tea and enjoy the sunlight while it’s there. But take time to get away from what you’re doing to relax.
- Exercise: I’m an avid cyclist – so I usually try to take a midday ride during the warm season here in Minnesota. I actually keep an older bike on campus so that I can do this between class/client time – as well as a road and mountain bike here at home. It’s a bit tougher in the winters but I find that the local gym does ok for me – and it’s a good time for deep thinking as well.
- Vacations: I’m doing this right now – but as you can see I’m still blogging (more for fun than anything else). I’ve already spent a week in Cozumel, Mexico this year (no blogging from there though) and am now on a 200+ mile cycling trip in/around the Ozarks in Missouri here in the United States. It’s a great chance to clear your head in the fresh mountain (or beach!) air and take a break from it all.
- Laugh: Whether you’re just watching a funny movie, listening to a stupid joke, or visiting a funny website – laughter truly is good for your soul.
- Sex: No comment ;)
- Most importantly: Spend time with my friends: They help keep me grounded – try to help me avoid most of my mistakes (when I remember to listen to their advice), and will always have my back.
That’s what helps keep me grounded and my stress level low. What do you do?