The Nitty Gritty of Stress & Business + 3 (Blissfully) Simple Solutions

by Jena Coray of Miss Modish & Modish

miss modish, modish blog, jena coray, stress and small business

Jessika suggested we might like to talk about the nitty gritty of running a business this month, and I think the nittiest and grittiest thing of all for me to deal with over the last five years in my business has been: stress. Or should I say, STRESS!!!

I’m an incomparable worrier and perfectionist, I put undue pressure on myself all the time, I take on too much too often and feel guilty for all the things I don’t get done. And inevitably, I start to feel paralyzed by the seemingly endless to-do list in front of me and like I just can’t get anything done. It’s horrifying. Debilitating! Too often over the years I’ve found myself on the steam train heading straight for burn-out town and she chugs along mighty fast, toot-toot!

But I’ve decided I’m not going along for the ride, nope, not this time. I’m jumping that ever-chugging stress train and taking my life back! After years of running a business filled with lots of joy, success and growth but also many times of dealing with my own frustration, anxiety and fear, I’m just now starting to figure out the one thing that makes all the difference in the world: When I trust my gut, good things happen. When I get stuck in my head, I end up overwhelmed.

Does that happen to you? Do you let yourself get so worried about what’s coming up ahead that you can’t focus on now? Do you ever psyche yourself out, un-convince yourself of your awesomeness or let fear of something stop you from moving ahead in your business? Do you let the woulda, coulda, shouldas dance circles around your brain? Do your “have-tos” stomp all over your “want-tos” so much so that you end up feeling drained by the end of the day?

Well then, my dear, it sounds like you might be stuck in your own head too!

I’ve been making some really deliberate changes in my life over the last few months to say buh-bye to the incessant brain chatter and get back in touch with my gut, my center, the one place that I know can’t lead me astray. And wouldn’t you know it? I’m feeling the positive effects already. I feel weight flying off my shoulders, confidence building and stress slowly but surely high-tailing its way out of my life. So what have I been doing lately that helped turn my near breakdown into a breakthrough?

miss modish, modish blog, jena coray, stress and small business

I’m getting into my body

A wise confidant recently told me, “the best way to get out of your head, is to get into your body” and it’s stuck with me in a huge way. I think especially for us folks who have sedentary jobs behind a computer all day, or work all by our lonesomes from home, it’s really easy to feel lost inside our own minds just sitting there thinking, thinking, thinking all day long. Doing something physical is a great way to break the thought patterns and clear your mind so you can come back to work again from a more centered place.

So now, when I feel that vicious cycle of thoughts start to spin, or if I end up lost on the internet wasting time hopping down a bunny trail of links, I realize it, get up from the computer and take a break to get back into my body. I’ll do some exercise or go plant flowers, do some chores around the house or go take pictures. Sometimes I put on a favorite song and dance around or do a spur of the moment crafty project or decide to make myself a yummy cooked breakfast instead of the usual yogurt or oatmeal.

I used to feel guilty for taking the time out of my work day to do those sorts of things, like I was being too “unproductive”, you know. But now I’m realizing these are actually small opportunities to reconnect with myself daily. Opportunities to give my restless mind a break and let my gut take over. And when I come back to work after a body-focused break, my mind returns ready to get down to business, and that can only make me more productive in the long run.

miss modish, modish blog, jena coray, stress and small business

I’ve been meditating

Another way that I’ve not only been able to move more into my body, but to also address that crazy brain-chatter directly, is by meditating. I’ve been doing it for 15 minutes a day 3-5 days a week since March, and am really starting to feel its effects in positive, tangible ways. And I find that the more often I do it, the more I enjoy it. I’m even starting to look forward to it, crave it, because it’s the first thing I’ve found that helps me feel so centered, so quickly.

In just a few short minutes I can go from heart-palpitating anxiety to a feeling of calm focus, by reconnecting with my breath, identifying the thoughts I’m obsessing about and letting. them. gooo… Ahhh, just think about how freeing that sounds! Being able to distance yourself from thoughts of to-dos, of have-tos, of wants and jealousies and insecurities, of dilemmas that have yet to be solved- it creates space, it clears the haze of everything so you can better focus on what needs to be done right now, and not worry about what’s next until it’s actually here.

I had my best experience meditating so far yesterday morning. I got up at 6:30 and decided to try meditating outside for the first time. I sat cross legged in a lawn chair overlooking my flower garden, facing east toward the rising sun. For 20 minutes I sat with my eyes closed and focused on my breath- in, out, in, out- accompanied by a chorus of singing birds and the wind whipping through my hair. It felt incredibly refreshing, incredibly centering. It was a real hippie-dippy-trippy moment of feeling connected with nature in a deep way, of groundedness. There were moments when I got caught up in my thoughts, yes. But I always came back to my breath, and by the end of those 20 minutes I felt calm, focused and ready to take on the day. I went on to have a great one and got tons of stuff done, including writing this post! 🙂

miss modish, modish blog, jena coray, stress and small business

I’m focusing on accomplishments

Far too often I would go to bed still thinking of my untackled to-dos, and then I’d wake up in the morning and immediately start worrying about what I didn’t get done yesterday, plus add in all the tasks that lie ahead for me that day and I’d be feeling stressed out and worried before I even put one foot on the ground!

So, I’m trying something a little different now. I’m focusing more on my accomplishments. All the things that I DID do, the to-dos that got crossed off, the projects that were completed, the joys I felt, the good energy that I got- whatever made me feel good and worthwhile throughout the day, that’s what I’m going to bed thinking about now. It has helped me wake up with a clearer mind and has started a definite shift in my stress levels.

I’m even starting to keep track of all the things I’ve accomplished during the week in my planner- there’s a little notes section at the end of every week and there I’ve been writing in everything big and small that I feel proud to have gotten done: “finished the mojo plan!” “had a really inspiring conversation with blogger friend!” “finally wrote that email you were really dreading writing!” “got a client a great write-up on a big blog!” “exercised 5 days this week!”

It’s a big shift from the mindset of feeling like I’m always on the verge of failing, always running to catch up, always scrambling for something. By focusing on what I’m getting done, I’ve realized that (get this) I do actually get stuff done! And just that difference in mindset has made me feel so much more productive. And when you feel like you’re being productive, you don’t feel stressed out.

What about you? Have you faced difficulties dealing with stress and anxiety? Has it gotten in the way of you taking action or feeling secure in your business in some way? What kind of changes will you make (or have you made) to get out of your head and into your calm center?

{image credit: all images by Jena Coray for Modish & linked to their original posts}


  1. Thank you Jena, for an honest and eye-opening post.

    I’ve lost count of the times I’ve woken up at 2am stressing about the to-dos on my list.

    Not very productive – the advice about taking time away from the laptop is excellent.

    When I hit a creative roadblock I walk away from the computer, do something outdoors (weeding or mowing the lawn works for me) and come back refreshed.

    Anyway, better get back to that list…. thanks again, Lucy

  2. Bridgett says:

    I love how calming and serene the voice of this post is. Jena has some great tips and I agree with all of them! I work best when I step away and take time for myself, although I’m guilty of falling in the evil vicious circle of “what needs to be done next.” I need to try yoga outside one morning, sounds glorious!

  3. very wise advise, especially the moving part. exercise clears the mind and fends off memory loss, depression and lack of focus. i have been trying to do my own movement after being in front of the computer or drawing board all day.

  4. Absolutely wonderful and inspiring blog!!
    I’ve recently written about this very same thing, and how taking a full day off really helped me to relax, de-stress, and refocus.

    Your statement about meditating daily is a far better approach than my “let it build up then take a day off” method. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. julz says:

    so lovely to hear! i love all of your ideas jena. i think meditation would help me in my life right now and so would every other idea that you’re changing in your life! i’m looking forward to an exciting summer ahead in the neighborhood with lots of playtime outside ;0

  6. Sapna says:

    What awesome tips! I’ve been struggling with this too ad really relate to the “get out of your head and into your body”! I really need to learn to pause and walk away, walk outside, so some yoga…. working on making meditation a daily practice too. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Trude says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Jena! I think every woman in business for herself needs to keep these in mind. 🙂 It’s definitely something I’ve been working on, especially when it comes to self-discipline, and keeping track of accomplishments (I use Teux Deux) really helps.

  8. Rita says:

    I feel like you just pulled this out of my head! I so needed to hear this, and I’m excited to try your tips. Hopefully they will reduce some of my stress and increase my productivity! Thank you so much 🙂

  9. jena says:

    YAY YAY YAY! To all of you! Thank you for the kind comments and I truly hope some of these tips can help you too!

    Every time I find myself starting to tense up with stress now I just stop for a second- take a deep breath, acknowledge that nagging to-do and say “yep, I hear ya to-do dude, I got it!” and then push the thought away… and then get back to the task at hand. That’s one way I’ve seen meditation have a real, noticeable effect on how I think so far- I’m able to push those thoughts away so much easier, not dwell and reel over them so much 🙂

  10. Jessica B says:

    thank you thank you thank you
    nearly in tears because you totally nailed what has been going on with me….for years….
    I put my artwork down for almost 5 years and felt parts of me literally die.
    Married almost a year, my husband has been incredible in doing any and everything to get those things to regenerate.

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