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Solopreneur Stress: 6 Successful Women Share Their Best Anti-Stress Strategies

Soloprenuer Stress

If you’re a struggling and stressed solopreneur, I want you to know that overwhelm, overload, and over-stressed doesn’t have to be your modus operandi.

You can become so numb to stress that it begins to seem normal so you just keep going.  Sound familiar?  But gradually, chronic stress can diminish your joy, test your relationships, and erode away your health.

Although stress is not a disease itself, it is considered the #1 operative killer today. According to the American Medical Association, stress is at the root of more than 60% of all illness and disease.

Not good, right?

So how can you turnaround your stress response?  I invited 6 successful women who I admire – my own mentors, colleagues, and friends – to share their personal stress stories and anti-stress tips with you.  Since every one of them is so amazing yet so unique, I’m sure one or more of their stories and solutions will resonate for you.

Collectively, they represent these qualities and ways of being:

  • Prolific living
  • Simplicity
  • Adventure
  • Peaceful triumphs
  • A liberated life
  • A bold life

Whether you’re a solopreneur or not, their stories will help you quash stress.  Please enjoy and don’t hesitate to take notes and implement whatever speaks to you.

Stress Tips | Entrepreneurs | Solopreneurs | Small Business Owners

Farnoosh Brock

How does stress personally impact you in your business life?  What are your main stress triggers?

Farnoosh BrockGenerally, I know the signs of stress show up in my words, and in the tone of my voice, especially when I communicate with my husband. I always always intend to come across as kind and loving – this is one of my priorities in life now after years of horrible stress and anxiety, so when my voice changes, and my mood turns sour, I know that I have neglected self-care and taken on too much. It’s time to reset, regroup and ground myself.

What are favorite and most effective ways to counteract the stress that arises in the course of your business day and business life?

Such a fantastic question as I explore this often. Right now, my Ashtanga yoga practice, which is intense and long and a huge commitment, is what helps me find peace, happiness, patience, humility and calm.

Also, I have to treat my body right. For years, I was looking for the right way to nourish myself, and while I make juices and smoothies, which do help me feel so good, I hadn’t found the right way to eat until recently when I discovered Paleo and now my body feels in better balance. So a hard-core yoga practice as well as a strict regimen for nourishing my body.

What single piece of heart-advice would you share with a budding solopreneur who feels challenged by stress and pressure?

That stress is not normal. Stress was an accepted norm when I was at corporate and I thought it was normal. It is not. If you are stressed, it is not good, it’s not something to be proud of and feel important that you are doing a lot of work. Stress is bad for you and will eventually ruin your health and most assuredly, your business in the long-term, so take it under control fast. Also don’t confuse working hard with stress. One can exist without the other.

Farnoosh Brock is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, who escaped her cushy 11-year corporate career to start her own company.  Today she’s a speaker, published author, green juice expert, Ashtanga yogini, and globe trotter.  You’ll find her at Prolific Living and Prolific Juicing.

Annabel Candy

How does stress personally impact you in your business life?  What are your main stress triggers?

Annabel Candy on StressGosh! There are so many triggers. I have three businesses, three kids and I’m flying from Australia to Europe twice in the next few months. Like most women I have a lot on my plate so trying to keep everyone happy, both family and clients, while also making time for myself can be a struggle.

When I get stressed and take too much on I get less done than ever before. Stress causes me to wake up and churn things over when I wish I was asleep, lose focus because I’m  tired and become easily distracted. It makes me more likely to while away time on Facebook because it’s such a great way to stop me thinking about what I should be doing!

What are your favorite and most effective ways to counteract the stress that arises in the course of your business day and business life?

A few years ago I started meditating regularly after a brush with anxiety/depression that made me determined never to let myself sink so low again. On business days I meditate daily after I’ve packed the kids off to school and before I start work. It’s just for 10 or 15 minutes but meditating gives me space to relax, focus and just be.

I’m also religious about self-care. I exercise daily, eat healthy 90% of the time and get out in the fresh air every day to enjoy nature.

I practice mindfulness as well and trying to be in the moment when I’m not working. I consciously try to enjoy that time rather than thinking constantly about work and allowing it to impact my downtime. I don’t always succeed but I’m now aware about when I start thinking about work outside work hours!

What single piece of heart-advice would you share with a budding solopreneur who feels challenged by stress and pressure?

Breathe! It’s so easy to get distracted and forget what’s really important about your business but meditating and mindfulness help you stay focused. So many people say they can’t meditate but I urge business owners to try it for 10 minutes a day for a month. If you can be disciplined and do that it really is life-changing.

You also need to remind yourself constantly why you went into the business and who you want to help so that it continues to be rewarding. There will always be aspects of  running a business that aren’t much fun but  try to  remember that everything aspect of your work allows you to keep doing what you love or living the lifestyle you dreamed of.

Annabel Candy runs the web design agency Mucho and recently set up Local Marketing HQ which provides Google Local Marketing, Mobile Marketing and Reputation Marketing to clients all over the world. Annabel is passionate about travel and well-being, sharing stories and tips on her travel blog Get In the Hot Spot.

Courtney Carver

How does stress personally impact you in your business life?  What are your main stress triggers?

Courtney Carver on StressI left a high stress job to intentionally enjoy my work, so I’ve kept stress a much smaller part of the equation in my business compared to past jobs/careers. The things that do cause stress are usually the bits and pieces that aren’t my specialty. For instance, a site crash or other technical problem solving is out of my wheelhouse.

In the early stages, I was figuring that all out on my own to save money, but the time involved was significant and stressful. It would take me much longer to figure things out than it would someone who was more tech-savvy. Now I try to focus on what I do best and surround myself with people who are great at what they do.

What are favorite and most effective ways to counteract the stress that arises in the course of your business day and business life?

I try to be proactive about managing stress. My morning routine really helps me to manage my reaction to stressful events. I spend the first 2-3 hours of each day doing things that fuel my body, brain, heart and soul so I rarely feel depleted, even if everything goes wrong during the day. 7-8 hours of sleep a night helps too. It’s crucial to acknowledge that how you treat your body, how you feel and you take care of your life is completely connected to the success of your business, no matter how you define success.

What single piece of heart-advice would you share with a budding solopreneur who feels challenged by stress and pressure?

Learn to identify what really matters and release the things that don’t. When I reflect on my biggest struggles, they were almost always self inflicted because I gave them too much power. Let go. Let go. Let go.

Courtney Carver simplifies life and work on Be More with Less so you can focus on what really matters. As a simplicity author and speaker, she determines what matters most by eliminating everything that doesn’t. She created minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 featured in the March 2014 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Cigdem Kobu

How does stress personally impact you in your business life?  What are your main stress triggers?

Cigdem Kobu on StressPerfectionism. I’m a recovering Type A perfectionist. Even though I’ve learned how to manage my perfection-loving side, I sometimes still struggle with it.

Going back to the basics and realigning myself with why I’m doing what I’m doing (my true purpose), what matters to me (my core values), and what I’m good at and should focus on (my core strengths) always helps.

Also, too many hours in front of the computer has started becoming a source of stress. I’ll now be getting full support from an assistant, so I hope I’ll have more time to go out and spend in nature, get more involved in my local community and spend less time in front of a screen.

What are favorite and most effective ways to counteract the stress that arises in the course of your business day and business life?

I go out and do meditative walks on my own. Moving rhythmically in nature never fails to calm and nourish me. I also give myself permission to take occasional mini naps during the day. They always work like magic.

What single piece of heart-advice would you share with a budding solopreneur who feels challenged by stress and pressure?

Three things that I always tell my clients and community members:

  1. There is no recipe, formula, blueprint, or one solution; there is only your solution. Run your business your way. Find out what works for you, what is a good fit for your core elements, and improve your process one step at a time.
  2. Your business is fluid and it will change. Allow yourself and your business to evolve. Change course if you need to. It’s OK to change your mind or make a different decision.
  3. Have a support network. If you have constant access to a circle of like-minded cohorts who get you, support you and champion you – in good and bad times – you’ll manage business-related stress much more easily simply because you’ll be able to ask for help, share your heart, rant if you need to, find honest answers and solutions, knowing you’re not judged and your back is being watched at all times.

Cigdem Kobu is the founder of Peaceful Triumphs, a web-based training hub where quiet-loving and heart-centered women coaches and creatives gather, lead and thrive the introverted way.

Maia Duerr

How does stress personally impact you in your business life?  What are your main stress triggers?

Maia Duerr on StressFor me, stress usually comes in the form of financial stress. As a small business owner, I constantly need to consider how my revenue will be flowing in the next month, quarter, year, and beyond. I don’t have the luxury of going on ‘cruise control’ like I did as an employee working for someone else. I need to be actively engaged in the wellbeing of my own business. That means being strategic about what I offer and learning how to market my offerings effectively. Otherwise I won’t be able to pay my rent — it’s as simple as that!

Over the years, I’ve gotten better at learning how to do this and, most importantly, I’ve gotten better at learning how to respond to stress.

What are favorite and most effective ways to counteract the stress that arises in the course of your business day and business life?

Something that really helps me is to think in terms of ‘stress transformation’ rather than ‘stress reduction.’ Almost every appearance of stress in our lives can be seen as an invitation to look more deeply at our limiting beliefs and patterns, and to practice new ways to respond to them. This is at the root of the transformation process.

What single piece of heart-advice would you share with a budding solopreneur who feels challenged by stress and pressure?

If I could go back to my younger self, just starting out as a solopreneur, the most important thing I’d tell myself is to trust in the practice of basic mindfulness as the most powerful way to turn stress from a negative experience into a transformative one. By learning how to stabilize the mind and work with the fear that can so often arise when money issues are triggered, we can shift from survival mode to actually being able to thrive in our business (and in life).

Maia Duerr is a coach and consultant who is committed to offering mindfulness and other reflective practices that cultivate compassion, awareness, and social transformation. Her sweet spot is working with small business owners and nonprofits in the start-up phase as well as creative individuals who want to integrate awareness practices into their lives and work.  Maia shares her insights, experience, and knowledge at MaiaDuerr.com and the Liberated Life Project.

Tess Marshall

Tess Marshall on StressHow does stress personally impact you in your business life?  What are your main stress triggers?

I only feel stress when I bring it on myself. My stress triggers are always the same false beliefs about not being, doing or having enough. A trigger is when my thoughts are in the fear of the future.

What are favorite and most effective ways to counteract the stress that arises in the course of your business day and business life?

The best way I’ve found is to bring myself to the present moment with my senses. I notice what I see, hear, smell, touch, taste and feel.

What single piece of heart-advice would you share with a budding solopreneur who feels challenged by stress and pressure?

My single piece of advice is to catch yourself when you find a need to compare or compete with another. Our paths are unique. We never know what someone else has been through to get where they are. My teacher Jacob Glass reminds me to keep my eyes on my own paper and stay in my own back yard.

Tess Marshall M.A. is founder of The Bold Life and a personal development-industry entrepreneur.

Stress will always arise in business. But these stories demonstrate that you don’t have to be a victim to soloprenuer stress.  Like these accomplished women, you can take control and find enjoyable ways to interrupt the stress response and replace it with the relaxation response instead.

A deep bow of gratitude to the fabulous women who contributed to this article.


My e-course, Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Less Stress, offers a complete roadmap for dissolving stress and preventing it from overwhelming you again.  The course combines mindfulness, self-inquiry, and supportive stress reduction techniques to help you give stress the boot.  Check out the course details here.


Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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16 Comments

  1. Cyndy

    Thank you Sandra for this wonderful collection of wisdom and insight. I’m just starting out as a solopreneur (what a great word!) and am a bit fearful of finding myself too stressed to enjoy what I’m doing. I will take these suggestions to heart.

    • You’re so welcome, Cindy! I completely understand. Especially when everyone tells you have to do this, this, and this – more than you could possibly do in a day or a week! Good luck to you!

  2. Hi Sandra,

    Thank you for inviting me to be here with these brilliant people! I so can relate to Farnoosh with the tone of voice and husband thing. I have a loud voice anyway. Then when I’m stressed it will sound sharp and harsh as well. I immediately know I have to chill before I even get to the end of a sentence! And I do. If I don’t I immediately apologize, leave the room, chill and come back and begin again in a calm manner.

    • You’re welcome, Tess! I so loved what you contributed to the article. Each woman has a different angle so I find the collection fascinating and helpful.

      You have so much self-awareness, Tess. I’m impressed but not surprised that you are so tuned into your voice and how it can effect your husband. I love your willingness to apologize and shift it. Now, that’s real courage. I immediately related to Farnoosh’s experience too because I have my own version of the same issue.

  3. Sandra, thanks again for inviting me to contribute to a collection of such brilliant, valuable tips!

    I especially loved Maia’s tip about approaching stress not from a “reduction” but a “transformation” perspective. It makes a whole lot of sense!

    • You’re welcome! I loved your contribution, Cigdem, especially since perfectionism has been one of my challenges too. So much better now, thank goodness. Thank you so much for being part of making this a very special post!

      I also appreciate Maia’s frame for using stress to look deep within.

  4. Love reading this round up and especially Farnoosh’s reminder that stress is not normal. It does seem to be becoming normalised or even viewed as a badge of honor. It’s great to see people talking about the problem and the many different ways to deal with it.

    • That’s so true, Annabel – the way that stress has become a badge of honor. Sadly, that can have such a huge range of negative consequences. I loved reading all the initiatives that these lovely women have taken and love your honest contribution. Here’s to more ease!

  5. Great stuff, glad to read others’ take on how it’s become so normal to be adrenalized. Every moment of mindfulness, of doing one thing at a time, is such a treasure, and so valuable.

    Thanks for compiling all this wisdom!

    • You’re welcome, Sue! Yes, it’s so good to wake up to how not normal it is to be adrenalized. I love this new word you’ve created. I’m with you on mindfully, single tasking! Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. Awesome stuff! Thanks for putting this collection together Sandra.

    Thank you ladies for the great reminder:
    “Stress is not normal.” – Farnoosh Brock
    “Let go, let go” – Courtney Carver
    “Breathe!” – Annabel Candy
    “Have a support network” – Cigdem Kobu
    “Trust in the practice of basic mindfulness…” – Maia Duerr
    “Catch yourself when you find a need to compare or compete with another.” – Tess Marshall

  7. Wow! What a wealth of helpful suggestions about how to handle stress. It was kind of a shock to read that stress isn’t normal. I often feel like if I’m stressed it means I’m busy, which means I’m successful, but this made me reflect and realize that not being stressed is also a component of success…I guess I will have to do more yoga and go on more walks.

  8. Stress does feel like the norm, doesn’t it, Daniella! I’m glad you took this opportunity to reflect and consider how you can be a success with ease. Enjoy your yoga and walks! I haven’t gotten into the yoga habit, but I love walks.

  9. I like the simple but powerful message Courtney shares of letting go, Sandra. Reprioritizing and keeping what’s important in our lives, while reducing or letting go of the rest, has been helpful in my own life to live a more fulfilling and stress-free life. We don’t have time for everything so why not let go of those things that doesn’t serve us in our lives?

    Thank you for sharing the advice of all 6 women – I appreciate each person’s perspective and thoughts.

    • I’m partial to Courtney’s advice too, Vishnu. Thanks for highlighting it. I feel this life is so precious but also limited. It makes sense to focus on the priorities and not stress on the little stuff. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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