I didn’t know you could get hives from stress.
Stress is a common problem among entrepreneurs. The work of building a company – especially in the early life-or-death phases – can consume us, leaving us worse for wear. It eats away at our health, diminishes our sleep, and puts strain on our relationships. Over time it can cause major health problems, like heart attacks. And apparently, it can also cause hives.
Since the beginning of September, I’ve been under quite a bit of stress. I shifted to full-time entrepreneur (and work-from-home dad), we had our third son, and I’ve had some insane client project deadlines. About the same time, I began to break out in these ridiculous hives. They come and go, sometimes only a few, and sometimes I look like I have a massive case of the chicken pox. We thought it was an allergic reaction to something I was using, like deodorant or soap, but they haven’t gone away as we’ve made changes.
Last night, amid a particularly bad breakout, my wife’s aunt suggested stress as the cause. She recounted that her college finals caused her to have horrendous breakouts. Suddenly it all clicked. With my April 1st deadline, plus the client projects I have nearing completion, I have been afraid to miss something or not get it done in time. I’ve been losing sleep, getting the eye twitch, and the breakout has been getting worse, as it has been approaching every deadline and in every high-stress period. I’m suffering not from an allergic reaction, but from stress.
So today, I decided to read, and have faith that the things I have to get done are far less numerous than they feel, that my list is complete, and that I have not missed anything along the way thus far. Everything will work out fine. After this deadline, I think I’m taking a mini-vacation.
People are suffering stress-related issues in positions of varying importance all over the country. The seemingly most common case is in the mentality shift that occurs during one’s mid-life, when we go from the thought of death is far away to ohmygawd I’m getting closer to the day I die. INSEAD professor Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries offers Harvard Business Review this particularly intense case study of what happens when executives must face their own mortality. Have a read and de-stress a little.