This week 9-14 May is Mental Health Awareness Week and, especially over the past 2 years, we’ve seen and heard many articles about the importance of keeping mentally as well as physically healthy and the two are of course interlinked. Although there is still stigma and embarrassment around mental health, it is becoming more widely and openly discussed, and there is more help and advice available than ever before.
Many business owners get great fulfilment from running their own business as it gives them freedom to plan their lives. However, some may feel that they are focusing on their business every minute of the day. Perhaps you are thinking where will I find my next clients or am I generating sufficient profit for me to earn a reasonable living from this business? Or perhaps you feel that there’s not enough time in the day to do everything.
At times business owners may feel they need to be a superhero who can do everything their business requires, from finding clients to updating different social media platforms to doing their accounts as well as actually carrying out their business of providing goods or services. But you don’t have to be a superhero – no one person can do everything by themselves!
Mental Health Awareness Week takes a different theme each year and this year’s theme is loneliness, something that many entrepreneurs and business owners may experience if they are working long hours by themselves, especially if they have previously worked in an environment with other team members. Humans are social beings, made to interact with one and other!
So what steps can you as a business owner take to make sure you’re taking care of your mental health?
- Find a network of other small business owners, whether they’re in your sector or in the local area where you live or work, to meet up and have a coffee and bounce ideas around. This was something discussed in our March blog by contributor Penny Green.
- Shared business accommodation can also be a way of interacting with other small business owners, whether you have a permanent office, just rent a desk by the day or use SBREC’s free workspace.
- Are you struggling to carve out time for yourself? A friend of mine tackles this problem backwards; she so takes a year planner and writes on important events such as birthdays, her “me time” and her business priorities and then adds all the other bits that need doing. This enables her to have an effective work/life balance.
- Consider outsourcing some of the work you do on your business which doesn’t directly generate income. Could you use a social media agency to write and post for you? Could you use an accountant instead of wrestling with your monthly and yearly accounts yourself? This will help free up some of your time and will also support other small businesses.
- Volunteering can be a good break from work, and many people find it’s a good way of giving back. Some people volunteer in relation to their business, for example if they work in the employment sector, they might provide CV and job interview advice at a job club or to school leavers. For others, their volunteering is separate to their business, such as clearing a pond at the local nature reserve or being a school governor, allowing them to step away completely from their business. Volunteering enables us to enhance other people’s lives in some way and also makes us feel good about ourselves.
- Taking exercise, whether you’re a gym bunny, marathon runner or prefer yoga or a stroll around the local park, is crucial to maintaining your mental health. Some people practise mindfulness, focusing on what is happening in the present moment rather than worrying about the future or the past. Getting enough sleep is also vital to maintaining your mental health.
- Included in looking after your mental health is reaching out to others when things get difficult and knowing that there are options available. You might benefit from advice from your doctor or talking therapies including counselling; the NHS and Mind websites have details of different types of help and treatments available.
- The Mental Health Foundation offers a range of advice on looking after your mental health; these are tips anyone can use, not just aimed at business owners, so please share them across your networks. They include top 10 tips for looking after your mental health, exercise, mindfulness, overcoming fear and anxiety and how to sleep better.
Looking after your mental and physical health will enable you to have more time and energy to devote to those things that are important in your life and make your business a success.
*We strive to do our best when supporting small business and their growth. Our business databases can give you information and data that can help you with advertising, market research, company information, and industry factsheets. If you have already taken the plunge, we would love for you to join us at a seminar, our workshops cover digital marketing, business model canvas and planning, demystifying taxes and intellectual property to name a few. Visit our events page or website for more information.