It is a welcome thought that mental health issues and concerns are now being addressed not just with specific groups or individuals but for everyone. Mental health is primordial in achieving a well-balanced life. However, with the previous stigma that was attached to people suffering from mental health problems, these individuals had to deal with discrimination, and oftentimes, labels that are also contributing to the problems they already have.
Over the years, mental health concerns have not been really discussed in full because of the stigma and labels attached to it. People find it hard to be open about their mental health issues for fear of being discriminated against and the influx of unnecessary comments that they can get. Especially when the pandemic happened, it has been reported that a lot of individuals have found it hard to cope with the trying times. Depression and anxiety cases have risen so much that mental health advocates and professionals have been working really hard to address these concerns.
Suffice it to say, mental health issues are not confined to a specific group of people. These can be triggered by a lot of factors from the people around you and the environment. Similarly, business owners have expressed their concerns over their mental health mainly because of the stress and unfamiliar conditions that they have been experiencing especially with the pandemic. Even pre-pandemic times, it is not surprising to know that there is a growing number of business owners who have started to suffer from a variety of mental health concerns due to the overwhelming stress brought about by operating a business and the growing concerns about its growth and sustainability.
Running a business takes a lot of hard work and time off from one’s self and family. With the financial, emotional, and physical stresses brought about by running a business, it is inevitable to feel that you are being consumed by these factors and your mental health suffers in the end. And because of too much time being spent in running the business, there is a tendency for a business owner to forget that he would also need to take care of himself in order to achieve a well-balanced life in between work and personal spaces.
Let me share with you some mental health tips that are proven to effectively help individuals and small business owners alike to ensure that your mental health would be in tiptop shape and to help keep one back on track.
1. Start with yourself.
Easier said than done but with all the stress brought about by running your own business, you would need to start taking care of yourself before you take care of everyone else, including your business. Cliché as it may sound, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are feeling down, stressed out, and on the verge of breaking down, you will need to sit back, relax, and rethink your priorities, which should include yourself as one that is on top of the list.
Start by asking these questions to yourself:
- What am I stressing about?
There are so many stress factors in running a business. There are times when there are difficult situations that come about dealing with your external and internal customers. It could be dealing with your external and internal clients on various aspects of business operations. Encountering financial concerns and issues pertaining to the liquidity of the business. Family time that is already affected by your long working hours. These are just some of the things that a business owner is dealing with on a regular basis and it is important to be able to know what your priorities are and be able to address them accordingly, either by changing some routines or by other means that you deem appropriate for the situations you are facing.
- What tasks should I delegate in order to free myself from menial tasks that can be done by someone else?
A business owner has a lot to deal with in terms of tasks for the day and you hire people mainly because some of these things can be done by them. Knowing what to delegate and who to delegate it to will help answer this question as you cannot do everything on your own all the time.
- What are the priorities at this point?
Your everyday to-do list is important in the sense that it guides you on what to prioritize and be able to address all that you need to do in a timely manner. Knowing your priorities and learning how to classify them will definitely help you jumpstart every single day of your business activities ahead.
- Am I addressing these priorities according to their importance and urgency?
Everything seems to be urgent and important, especially for a small business owner, but just the same, a small business owner should be very well aware that these tasks and activities have their differences based on their priority levels. Priorities should be based on your timelines and urgency. Take the time out to reclassify your tasks way ahead so you will not be overwhelmed by considering everything as urgent because not everything is.
Your business should not be your entire life. You have people working for you who are there to help you run your business. There are tasks that can be delegated, and with proper guidance and direction, these can be done by them and all you need to do is to make sure that your targeted results would be achieved.
Small business owners work long hours, and we get that. You should not be confined to working those long hours that take time away from yourself and the people closest to you, like your family and friends. Stick to a specific working period for the day. Set up a routine that you can get used to. Your business should not run your life 24/7. Take the time to treat yourself and set aside business affairs during times of rest and recreation.
2. Connect with your inner self.
It is a known fact that successful and well-known business owners have established certain routines that enable them to fully maximize their precious time and be able to get in tune with themselves for the days ahead.
Studies have shown that successful business owners and powerful CEOs start their day with meditation. Setting aside ten minutes of your time to meditate helps you start your day with a calm and clearer mind for the long and rough day ahead. There are a lot of smartphone apps these days that can help you start on doing meditation and incorporate it into your daily routine. The benefits of meditation have been proven to help business owners and individuals get in tune with their bodies, minds, and souls, providing them with much needed clarity to go about the rest of their tasks and activities ahead.
Yoga is a form of exercise and meditation as well. Yoga has been proven to manage stress resulting in a higher quality and more hours of sleep, more energy and better and brighter moods and disposition for the individual. Yoga is also proven to relieve back pain, muscle tension, and other physical manifestations of exhaustion that one may be experiencing due to problematic and stressful days taking care of the business. And because yoga is proven to help give a balanced disposition, your mind is clearer, you physically feel much better, and as a result, your business activities are dealt with patience, more understanding, and calmness amidst the stressful environment. You become more productive in the long run.
3. Make a flexible working environment for yourself.
The beauty of running your own small business is the fact that you can dictate the time that you will be working in order to take care of other matters aside from your business affairs.
Ways to create a suitable and flexible working environment for you
If you have an assistant, your assistant can help you fix your schedule for the days ahead so you can ensure that business affairs are dealt with, and it will not interfere with other matters that you also must spend time on. Find a period of time that you think will work best for you to tend to business matters. Be flexible enough to create a schedule that would best fit your personal needs and the needs of your business.
If you work from home, make sure that the time set aside for work will not meddle with your personal errands and tasks. Being flexible not just means being able to juggle work and home life but it is being able to maximize the time set aside for work and tending to personal matters before or after these business hours. Make flexible working hours work for you instead of against you. You may set a schedule like you work from home on certain days during the week, you will be in the office for a specified period as well. Or you can also set a schedule where you can work from your favorite café to have a fresh environment. This mental health tip gives the kind of setup that can help you achieve flexibility while taking off too much worry with regard to how you should be handling the affairs of your business.
It has been mentioned earlier that since you have people working for you, delegate tasks that you can do away with and may very well be done by your staff and other employees. Get help when needed, either from your business advisor or even a trusted friend if things do not seem to be working out for you. You cannot do everything alone. It is very important to note that you hired people to do certain work and tasks for you. For any leader, delegation is important because it also makes your employees feel needed and important in your business. Delegating tasks help you in achieving goals and targets all together in the end.
5. Establish a trusted support circle.
A small business owner needs to establish his own support circle that he trusts and can easily confide in. It is important to have people in this support circle with whom you can speak with about anything regarding business or personal matters alike. Try to build a helpful business network that you can rely on about business matters. Having a great business network not just earns you prospective business partners but you can also gain friends from them that you can relax with after a long day at work. Yes, you can always mix business with pleasure and gain something good out of it. Besides, it is also great to hear different perspectives from them and learn a thing or two about life and business.
6. Stay healthy.
Just as important and vital as maintaining a good mental disposition is having a great physical state of health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is tantamount to also having a stable mental health condition as studies have already shown and proven. Because of the stress brought about by running a business, small business owners have a tendency to skip meals or have sleepless nights especially during seasonal sale periods and other business activities such as tax season and compliance. There will be days when a business owner may barely have enough sleep or binge eat because time is “not enough” to have a proper meal.
Ways to stay healthy
Exercise at least thirty minutes every day. Eat a balanced diet. Sleep at least eight hours per day. Get some sunshine in the morning for natural vitamin D. Increase your water intake, avoid drinking too much alcohol, and do not do drugs. Create a bedroom environment that will allow you to relax and sleep soundly. Turn off your mobile gadgets and do not bring home your work and spend quality time with your family that they deserve. These are not easy things for a small business owner to do but you will have to exert extra effort to make sure that you also keep your physical self in a glorious state.
7. You have to learn how to say “No!”.
We all have the tendency to please everyone and that should not be the case. There may be tasks and activities presented to you that it will be very hard to say no to. But to say no is definitely okay, especially if these will interfere with more pressing and more important matters. You should not feel guilty for setting boundaries as to when people will ask for your help or even volunteer for a cause. It is not that you will be rejecting everything that comes your way but maybe you can say “not this time” if you really do not feel like doing it. Everything has its own place and time and if you feel that you are not in the position to do something at this point, for whatever cause it is, then just put your foot down and say no.
8. Constructively deal with stress.
Stress is a part of a small business owner’s life. You deal with it every single day. But this should not deter you from being productive. There are numerous ways of destressing, and these mental health tips below would be very helpful in maintaining a sound mind and body.
Ways to deal with stress.
Find and start on a hobby that really piques your interest. It may be something you have always wanted to do but did not have the chance to earlier on. Join online groups where you can learn from other people. Learning something new is helpful as it gives our minds a refreshed outlook in life.
For those moments when you feel so overwhelmed and stressed, experts have suggested that starting your own journal helps a lot in relieving ourselves of thoughts that we may not be able to verbally express, but we have the feel of needing to. Journal writing is helpful and believe it or not, it brings down stress levels to something that is more manageable afterwards. When you write down your thoughts, it helps us to release both negative and positive energies that may help calm you down. Journal writing helps you create self-awareness with your thoughts and feelings.
Try to spare some time doing volunteer work during your free time. You may also do this with your family so that this activity would also serve as having quality time with them while doing something meaningful and inspiring. With the advent of technology, some volunteer groups need not have your physical presence in doing the work that needs to be done. And when you join volunteer groups of your choice, you also build a new network of friends and possible business contacts in a less stressful way. You are able to help society and it enables you to replace stressful moments with a sense of fulfillment in your own small way.
Especially with the current situation of being in a pandemic, mental health is equally important as being physically healthy. Reach out to friends and seek professional help, if needed, to cope with stress and anxiety. Talking it out helps and having a trusted support system will help you get through to these trying times.
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