Thursday, August 5, 2021

Looking After Your Mental Health As a Small Business Owner

Small business resilience

Don’t let COVID break you

As small businesses owners, we are typically an overextended breed who throw everything we have into our business. And usually will emotionally invest so much of ourselves in the business, that  we can run the risk of losing a proper sense of balance in our lives. 

And now more-so than ever before, the brutal uncertainty and turmoil associated with COVID-19 and the punishing effects of forced ‘lockdowns” have required us to draw upon all of our physical and mental resources, in order to stay afloat.

Some of you reading this article may likely have felt so overwhelmed with despair by the uncertain and unpredictable nature of the COVID business environment that you may have thought seriously about walking away from the business.  Running a business presents many challenges even at the best of times. But now more so than ever, we need to develop strategies that can help us to remain resilient in order to survive through these adverse  times.

One key strategy that mental health experts agree is central for developing a mindset that can underpin your ability to persevere is this …….

“In times of uncertainty, focus on what you can control”

The things I can control …… are my behaviour, my hand-washing technique, whether I wear a face mask, my social distancing habits.

My routine, my kindness, my exercise, my engagement with social media, my newsfeed, where my help comes from, my communication with my family and friends.

The things outside of my control – how long COVID lasts, other people’s reactions, other people’s behaviours, what is on the news, the economy, levels of lockdown

In other words……

Try not to waste precious time or energy worrying about those things you cannot control.   That doesn’t mean that you disregard the need to plan and prepare for various scenarios in your business - but instead it means that you don’t allow yourself to obsess about those worst case scenarios.   

And here’s  some other quick tips for coping positively in these uncertain times…

  • Making time for exercise each day:  Medical experts recommend about 30-40 minutes of walking or other activity each day. Making some type of exercise a daily habit and something you look forward to is a great idea, because it triggers the release of important endorphins within the body, which are sometimes referred to as the “happy” chemicals which help make you feel good.
  • Be mindful: Mindfulness may be all the rage right now, that’s because it works. It means being more aware of your emotions and how they affect you and those around you. It’s a great tool to help you monitor and manage negative thoughts and track your stress and anxiety levels. It means focusing more on the “now” and being present, instead of worrying about the future and what might happen.
  • Create work/life boundaries: It’s good practice to not take your work home with you, if possible. That’s easier said than done if you run a business from home or freelance, but there are still ways you can adopt some boundaries. Try switching off the work mobile after 5pm and only respond to emails during business hours. If you have kids, make the weekend time for them only and if you can, address work matters on Monday.
  • Connect with others: Reach out to a supportive friend or family member who is a good listener, or even ask for guidance from a property qualified counsellor who might be able to help you learn more effective strategies for coping with stress.  Whatever you do, make sure that you avoid bottling up your feelings …… you’ve got to have someone you talk with and share what you’re going through.  Maybe join a sporting club or volunteer with a community group, as a way of making new friendships and forming new connections with others. Loneliness and feelings of social isolation can become a fertile ground for depression - so be bold and reach outside of your comfort zone, to make connections with others.