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Balancing act: A few steps to protect your mental health and boost your business


It is a fallacy that the more hours you work, the more you will get done. In reality, the more hours you work, the less productive you become.

Why? Because we all need time to calm our mental chatter, re-energise and re-charge ourselves for the days and challenges ahead. With 24/7 connectivity, it’s even tougher to completely switch off. 

But once you acknowledge your personal emotional wellbeing is on an equal footing to your capability to perform your role, you understand it’s the energy source powering your performance. When it’s low, your performance is low, affecting both the short- and long-term performance of yourself and your business.

The following are five practical ways to build your mental fitness and help you master the pressures of running a business.

Apply the ‘performance zone’ idea

The ‘performance zone’ is when you’re ‘on it’, doing your thing, being the best version of you. But before entering this zone, you should ‘warm up’.

Before you start a 10km run, you complete a five-minute walk to get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. In the same way, before you enter your performance zone for the day – the office, the laptop, the mobile – start your warm-up. Think what is worthy of your time for that day, reflect on the trade-offs you will have to make to get things done, and accept those decisions. Write down your to-do items for that particular day. 

Having set yourself up for success, you can transition into your performance zone, feeling in control of your day and knowing what you need and want to achieve. Yes, things will fly at you from left field. But before you dive in firefighting, take ‘time out’ to re-apply your warm-up technique so you can re-set your day with these new demands in mind. 

Close out your working day in the ‘recovery zone’

The recovery zone is often the one we miss. This is where you transition from your performance zone into your personal life. It’s where you come down from the high or low of the day, reflect on what’s gone well or not gone well, and think about what you have learnt that will help you be better tomorrow. 

The recovery zone is where you decompress and close down the day so you can shut the door and tune into your personal life  and be present in the moment. Often, we put little time into the recovery zone, so we carry the day into our evening, and before we know it it’s morning again.

Block out ‘quality downtime’

While the ideal is being able to leave work and not think about it, for some business owners this is just not realistic. 

If a complete shutdown is not an option, block out ‘quality downtime’ instead: short, regular breaks where you switch off and are in the moment. You may agree to check in with the office every morning and evening, but outside of this you are off the grid and non-contactable. 

And when you’re not working and it’s your downtime, switch off phones, tablets and laptops. Seeing a flashing red light on your phone showing you have a new email is not going to help you switch off. Your natural curiosity will make you want to see who it is from and what it is about. And, once you’ve had a look, your mind will be switched back into the work world. 

Keep a calm mind

The US author Bryant McGill says: “A calm mind is your ultimate weapon against your challenges.” Subconsciously, your mind will be using the opportunity to work through any mental blockages you may be experiencing. 

While taking ‘time out’ from the daily running of the business, that ‘aha’ moment that you couldn’t quite get to, or the solution to a problem that you couldn’t quite fathom, may come to you without trying or thinking about it, because you’ve given your mind space to work.

Learn to say ‘no’

It sounds obvious, but by learning to say ‘no’ to the unimportant things, you free up more time to say ‘yes’ to the important and worthy things. If you try to be everything to everyone by saying ‘yes’ all the time, you end up being nothing to no one.