When it comes to mental wellness, small business owners are often reluctant to seek help. There is a fear that taking time away from work will damage their business, reputation and let their staff down. However, if SME owners keep working despite the ongoing warning signs, their mental health can quickly deteriorate.
When a small business owner crash and burns, everyone loses- the business, their family, their employees. We need to acknowledge the financial and emotional impact of ignoring the mental health of small business owners and start openly talking about how to best tackle these challenges.
Small business owners feel the pressure and responsibility for the company’s success or failure. This includes being responsible for looking after their family, themselves and their employees.
So, what are the challenges of running a small business?
Financial: the weight of carrying personal and business debt, along with managing cash flow, payroll, tax, accounting, financials and an unpredictable income.
Workload: long hours which often extend to the home, not taking regular breaks, working weekends, doing operational and administrative tasks along with wearing many ‘hats’ in your business to keep things afloat. The line between work life and home life often becomes blurred, affecting the people closest to you.
People: Recruiting, retaining and motivating staff, handling conflicts, dismissals, customer relations, performance reviews and office politics.
The Market: Adapting to the external market forces including varying supply and demand, seasonal fluctuations, on/off-peak demands and government or regulatory changes.
Small business owners often experience stress, fatigue, and burnout which inevitably affects the relationships they have with their employees, family, partner and kids. If these issues aren’t nipped in the bud quickly, they can quickly lead to anxiety, depression and also put business owners at a higher risk of injury or accident.
How can small business owners keep mentally healthy?
6 tips you can implement, today.
1. Consider your work/life balance
Try to manage your stress more effectively by focusing on areas of your life outside of work. Carve out dedicated times in your calendar to spend with your partner, kids, family, friends or pets. And make sure you stick to these schedules! Put systems in place in your routine that allow you to switch off- this could mean taking the time to go to the gym, attending a yoga class, enrolling in a hobby or activity that rejuvenates your body and mind. It’s not about making sweeping changes to your lifestyle, just about cultivating small moments in your everyday that allow you to balance your work and life.
2. Talk to someone
Don’t cringe just yet. A problem shared is a problem solved, as the saying goes. Talk to someone about what’s going on and how you’re coping inside and outside of work. Find a strong support network outside of your workplace and seek out people who you can draw social and emotional support from, even if it’s just to listen.
3. Do nothing
When we say nothing, what we really mean is take some time to relax. Breathing exercises, meditation, reading a great book or simply sleeping in on the weekend. Finding 20 minutes a day to do ‘nothing’ can be incredibly restorative for your mental wellbeing. Download the free apps Headspace or Smiling Mind to get started.
4. Celebrate your wins
Celebrate the small stuff, no matter how insignificant. Learn to deal with failures and move on quickly without dwelling. Running a business is a constant learning curve, you’re not always going to get it right 100% of the time. What you can do is appreciate the things that are going well and celebrate all the little wins along the way. Be grateful for the things going well.
Sounds obvious but it’s amazing how sedentary your life can become when you’re running your own business. Driving to work, sitting behind a desk, eating on the go, driving home, spending the evening in the home office or in front of the TV. Your body and mind need regular exercise to thrive. There is no excuse for not penciling in 15-30 minutes per day to get your heart rate up and the endorphins flowing. You will feel so much better for it, and your sleep will improve ten-fold.
Which brings us to our final point – SLEEP! You need 8 hours of quality sleep to maintain your mental and emotional wellbeing. Without sleep, you won’t be nearly as productive in your business. Turn off screens and devices at least 30 minutes before bed, wind down by reading a book and rather than your emails. Keep a notepad by your bed if you really need to get things off your mind before you switch off the lights. Put your phone on silent and use breathing exercises to allow yourself to switch off and unwind for the day.
There you have it. Six simple yet effective tips for maintaining your mental health and wellbeing. The best thing about these tips is you can get started today. So why not give it a shot. What have you got to lose?…