It’s common sense that if you’re healthy and feeling good about yourself, you’ll enjoy work and perform well. Maureen Bowes offers some simple practices for prioritising your wellbeing
As a small business owner your day is likely to be task-focused, full of demands and other people needing your time. This probably means you automatically put work-related tasks at the top of your to-do list, with you and your self-care somewhere near the bottom.
Prioritising your wellbeing means realising that your livelihood and business success actually depend on you being well. Taking good care of your body brings big benefits to your emotional and mental health. Inevitably, though, there are days when you don’t feel so good on the inside – when setbacks or challenges bring you down and affect your emotional climate. Your thoughts run away with you and you find yourself catastrophising or ruminating over problems.
The double whammy here is that your thoughts and feelings go hand in hand – if your thoughts dip, so too will your feelings and energy levels. Then you find yourself working through anxiety, worry and fears which, in turn, make your performance and relationships at work less effective.
If you keep your feelings silent and judge yourself for them, they’ll keep building up and will likely resurface as an outburst or tears when they are least welcome.
Here are some ways of taking charge and releasing them. In principle, these are habits for emotional resilience and mental toughness. In practice, they simplify your thought processes and declutter your emotions. We’re all different, so pick one that suits your style.
For any situation where you feel stuck, write down your responses to these six simple questions:
What’s not working?
What could work?
What could I/we do differently?
What would make a difference?
What are the next steps to action?
Express your feelings creatively
Get your feelings out, vent your emotions silently and let the paper be your listener. Expressing yourself privately will make you feel energised, not drained, and centred, not distracted.
Write down how you’re feeling. Get things out of your system in your own words. Make sure you put this somewhere safe, as it’s not intended for anyone else to read. Enjoy the experience of cathartically shredding the notes. Expression through writing is scientifically proven to increase resilience.
Sketch how you’re feeling. Use lines, shapes and colours to represent what’s going on for you. Get yourself thinking differently by creating a storyboard with some alternative endings.
Take time out to relax.
It can be surprisingly calming to do some colouring in: draw some shapes that are pleasing to you and fill them in. It’s remarkably satisfying.
Wherever you are, nature is within reach. You can see the sky, breathe in some fresh air and mindfully focus your attention on something naturally green. Immerse yourself in nature for a few minutes.
Go somewhere different and savour every flavour in your next meal. Chew each mouthful 20 times.
Be kind to yourself
Instead of listening to voices in your head that tell you off or make you feel foolish, give yourself some reassuring messages, as you would with someone you really care for.
Make your message short, affirming and encouraging. Don’t use words such as ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘mustn’t’.
Keep it somewhere you will notice it and remember its presence throughout the day.
Remind yourself of your qualities, strengths and accomplishments – all the reasons why you can succeed.
I thought it was just me!
It can be a very significant relief to know that you’re not the only person feeling the way you do. Step back and consider how many people in the world are feeling what you are feeling now – or worse. You’re definitely not the only one.
You’ll feel better in yourself if, instead of bottling things up, you find a trusted person to talk them through with.