The Art of Maintaining Control in a Market Full of Uncertainty: Reducing Stress through Exercise

By Tamara Staton, Thriving Solar

As we continue to ride the tumultuous solar coaster, many industry professionals naturally wonder what lurks around the corner in this ever-changing solar market. While we can't predict the future, there are things that we can do as business owners, executives, and managers to maintain control under circumstances that are mostly out of our control. This monthly column highlights various strategies that have the capacity to help your solar business thrive in a market where many might find themselves just struggling to survive. This column is of my own opinion and viewpoint.

With 80% of the US solar panel supply sourced from China, and the recent 30% tariff which many predict stands to hurt the solar industry, it's easy to imagine the high stress and tension you might be experiencing. It's often challenging to know what to do in these moments of high emotion, tough to know which decisions to make and how quickly. While it may be a great time to reduce stress through open dialogue, as addressed in the November issue of the Oregon Solar Review, it's likely a better time to focus on reducing your own stress and tension so you can think more clearly and make more solid decisions for the short and long term.

When stress is high and pressure is on, we're often inclined to dive into decision-making. Maybe we're facing business losses. Maybe we're eager to start the process in hopes of finding a workable solution. According to Association for Psychological Science, however, stress changes how people make decisions. People, in general, are more likely to weigh the upside of the outcome. Men are more likely to take risks, and women tend to be more conservative. Thus, in order to make clear-headed decisions which account for all factors, it's best to spend a bit of time clearing our mind and reducing our stress.

There are a number of ways to do this -- this article lists 40 ways in 5 minutes or less. Sleep more. Breathe deep. Be mindful. Such practices are beneficial, for sure, but tend to be challenging to integrate when we're used to powering through and just doing what needs to be done. Exercising, however, not only serves to reduce stress in a way that honors what we're needing in the moment, but simultaneously improves our ability to think clearly and consider aspects of the situation that we didn't have access to before. Eric Hansen, co-founder and general manager of True South Solar, agrees that exercising helps him stay grounded and focused, better able to keep things in perspective.

“Work is important,” says Eric, “but it’s not everything. I deeply believe that physical strength and stress relief is the most important thing we can do for our health, second to eating -- especially the older we get.”

It really doesn't matter what exercise you choose - with higher intensity exercise, you'll be creating endorphins that will contribute to better sleep and increased mood. With lower intensity workouts, according to Harvard Medical School, you'll be creating proteins that make for better decisions over time, with increased neural connections. However, it's most valuable to find an exercise that you enjoy and that suits you and your lifestyle, as you're more likely to stick it out and do it again.

If you like to power through and push it, you might consider…

        • running, kickboxing, biking, strength-training, skiing, crossfit…

If it feels like slowing down would help you more, maybe consider…

        • yoga, walking, hiking, tai chi, disc golf…

If you're seeking creativity in your movement, you've got options as well…

        • dancing, gymnastics, geocaching, parkour, martial arts, cleaning…

5 Tips for Using Exercise to Reduce Stress

  1. Pick an exercise that suits your mood, personality, or lifestyle.
  2. Create a schedule. Having a schedule to lean on will increase the likeliness that it will happen. If you have to decide if or when to exercise, particularly when you're stressed out or upset, it likely won't happen at all.
  3. Exercise in a way that supports you. If having a workout partner helps motivate you, then find one. If music gets you going, get and use a pair of headphones that allow you to revel in the tunes.
  4. Listen to your body. If it feels good, keep going. If it hurts, take a break, even a short one. Yes, there is value to pushing through - but there is also plenty of written testimony, and even advice, regarding the benefits of listening.
  5. Be persistent yet understanding. If you didn't get to it this time, there's always next time. Beating up on ourselves does nothing to reduce stress, and has little long-term benefit for motivation.

Should you be interested in learning more about integrating a thriving culture into your own business or team, or how you might attract more customers, ease communication, and align company profits with the overall growth of solar, contact Tamara Staton directly at

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