How to Conquer Stress in Your Independent Pharmacy

How to Reduce Stress in Your Independent Pharmacy by Elements magazine |

Inside: Your stress is harming your pharmacy business, even if you don’t realize it. Learn how to conquer stress and protect yourself and your independent pharmacy from its sneaky effects.

For many small business owners and managers, stress is a natural part of life.

After all, your job includes several difficult, high-level jobs in one. Entrepreneur. Manager. Accountant. Pharmacist. And on and on.

It’s no wonder many pharmacy owners suffer from burnout.

In a world where stressors seem never-ending, entrepreneurs and business owners try to buck up and power through them. And to even pretend it isn’t there.

Living with stress becomes the norm. (Medical professionals would diagnosis that as a chronic condition.)

But unchecked stress can result in serious negative effects to your business.

The good news is a few simple practices can help you conquer stress. For the good of your pharmacy business.

Here’s Why Stress Is Terrible for Your Pharmacy Business

Doesn’t everyone deal with stress? What’s the big deal, anyway?

Beyond its harmful effects on personal health, stress turns you into a worse business manager.

Without stress, you make great, level-headed decisions for your pharmacy. You treat your employees with patience and your patients with care. But when stress sneaks in, you make bad decisions.

The stressed-out brain reacts to choices by simplifying everything. Even the most complicated decisions turn into black-and-white alternatives. It also settles for answers quickly rather than being open to better options.

Stress changes how you approach risk.

Because it’s a survival mechanism, stress pushes everything to its extremes. It swings the pendulum to one end or the other: fight or flight. You’ll become too risky or not risky enough.

Stress leads to damaging micromanagement. You grasp for control because you’re stressed that things won’t get done correctly. But the more you control, the more stress you experience.

Stress changes how you relate to your employees and your patients.

Stress can cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression


How do you think those effects will affect your leadership and your relationships?

Interactions become shorter, snappier, and less empathetic. Instead of being open to new ideas from your staff, you’re more likely to shut them down. Instead of taking time to listen to your patients, you’re more likely to move them out the door as soon as possible.

In general, people think they’re better at managing stress than they actually are. That leads to lives lived under the chronic grip of stress, and it becomes the norm. After living with stress long enough, you can stop noticing.

The effects of stress will manifest differently in everyone and to different degrees. But without a doubt, stress stifles your best business self.

These Are the Best Tips for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Owners to Conquer Stress

Don’t let stress take the best from you and your pharmacy.

Here are the top tips for conquering stress from psychologists, academics, and the top business leaders in the country.

1. Relinquish control

You can only manage so much given time and physical constraints. When you put more on your plate than you have room for, you get a full serving of stress.

Learn to delegate as much as you can to your trusted staff members. And when you hand over a task, don’t hover. Trying to maintain control after giving up a duty is worse for stress than doing it yourself.

That means making sure your staff member is ready and capable. If you don’t have employees you can trust, train them or hire better.

2. Change your priorities

Some stress stems from caring too much about too much. Figure out what’s most important and don’t dwell on the rest.

Try making a list of the things you worry about in a typical day.

Rank them based on importance and use that list to determine where to invest your attention.

3. Practice rituals and routines that work for you

Studies have shown that rituals can improve performance and decrease anxiety.

Routines and rituals increase confidence, attention, and emotional stability.

And, practicing a routine before a big task can reduce the stress for that task and make you perform better on that task.

Routines can take almost any form. Find what works best for your stress and stick with it.

4. Practice meditation and deep breathing

Mindfulness has grown popular among the most successful and powerful business people in recent years. People are realizing that the busier and more connected life becomes, the more humans need to relax and disconnect.

Everyone can practice deep breathing, which has been shown to decrease heart rate and calm the body. Paying attention to the signs of stress can tell you when you need to stop and take a breath.

But don’t start stressing about meditation. (It doesn’t require the legs-crossed, palms-up approach). It’s as simple as stopping to focus your attention on a single thing. Simply experience what’s happening without any judgments. Where there’s no place for stress.

You can practice mindfulness wherever you are. Becoming more mindful means being fully present in whatever you’re doing. When you’re talking with patients, for example, don’t think about your to-do list. When you’re reconciling third party claims, don’t think about tomorrow’s agenda.

Stay in the moment to keep the stress away.

5. Address issues immediately

Stress often comes from avoiding something that you need to do. Tasks that sit untouched will lurk in your periphery and nag at you.

Simply taking the first step to address the issue can reduce stress.

In an interview, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said, “Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over.”

So, he immediately addresses tasks with at least an email or a phone call to get the ball rolling.

6. Take breaks or get away from the pharmacy

Working straight through the day is so common in pharmacies that states have created laws requiring pharmacists to take breaks.

That habit is dangerous. Over time, stress will build up and burn you out. (And result in medication errors.)

If you’re too busy to get away during the day, something in your operations needs to change.

Take time out throughout the day to break from your work. Set regular times or else you’ll get sucked into the never-ending task list and find it difficult to break away.

Also, take vacations. Go incognito, leaving all work behind. That’s a good place to practice mindfulness and come back to work refreshed.

7. Practice gratitude

Gratitude is stress’s worst enemy. It’s proven to kill stress and increase well-being.

A simple way to cultivate a habit of gratitude is journaling. According to a psychology study, “Taking stock of thankful events is an effective approach to reduce stress and depressive symptoms among health care practitioners.”

Simply write down what you’re thankful for every day to keep the stress at bay.

8. Limit daily decisions

Former President Obama famously wore only grey and blue suits. Because of the weighty decisions he had to make every day, he couldn’t spend time making trivial decisions about what to wear.

Figure out which decisions are most important to your pharmacy and your life. Then, find a way to make the low-priority decisions simple and routine.

Save your choices for what matters most.

9. Practice self-care

Stress is directly correlated with self-care.

What you do outside the pharmacy matters as much as what you do at the pharmacy.

Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and not exercising all contribute to stress.

Common practices shown to reduce stress include:

  • Journaling
  • Spending time in nature
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating nutritiously
  • Exercising daily
  • Interacting socially
  • Doing a hobby


To figure out what works best to reduce your stress, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you spending time with the people you care about?
  • Are you spending time doing activities that bring you joy?
  • Do you find ways to relax your mind and body?


Find out what brings you the most joy and relaxation, and focus on those when you’re out of the pharmacy.

Don’t ignore your stress. Conquer stress and become a better pharmacist, business owner, and person.


Want more pharmacy business tips and advice? Sign up for our e-newsletter.

Editor’s Picks


Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!


Sign up to receive PBA Health’s e-newsletter to get the latest Elements web articles in your inbox every other week, along with industry news, supply chain insights, and exclusive offers.

Related Articles

Popular Articles