Running a small firm in the current climate is a stressful business, so staying on top of your own mental health is essential. Karen Warren outlines a few tips to help you cope.
The business world is not where many of us, as FSB members, want it to be. It can be low, cumbersome and frustrating in some instances, and hectic, all-consuming
and relentless in others.
Thank goodness we can wake up when we want to, take long lunches and finish early! But that’s not the reality of running your own business, is it? It’s harder work than the corporate world but it’s all yours, which can be fabulous and exhausting in equal measure at times. The independence to make decisions can feel lonely, and the responsibility of leadership can weigh heavy.
Can you honestly say you’re looking after yourself in your own business, now that you don’t have a health and safety officer and a human resources team to turn to for help, or a line manager who could sometimes be a bit useful and lend a sympathetic ear?
The following tips will help you to look after yourself, and ensure you’re in the best possible shape – physically and mentally – for the challenges that inevitably lie ahead.
1 Take regular breaks
Move away from your immediate workspace and disconnect yourself from all devices for at least half an hour, once a day. Your brain is a remarkable thing; with regular breaks it can work effectively and come up with new ideas and ways to adapt your business to significant challenges. If you work all day with no breaks, your body and mind will be running on empty and you’ll struggle. There is value in stopping for 10 minutes and stepping back.
2 Eat and drink well
No, not the 1980s version of that! Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet. Do not eat and drink on the move. Stop. Enjoy your food and allow your body to digest it for half an hour or so. If possible, move away from your usual workspace to eat your lunch. Are you giving your body the nourishment and hydration it needs to stay well, work effectively and fight infection if it needs to? Nourishment is about food, of course, but it’s also about letting yourself rest regularly and looking after yourself.
We’re all more sedentary than we should be, so take more conscious action to get up regularly, move around, stretch and breathe, all of which supports good physical and mental health. If you can, spend some time outdoors during the working day, particularly in the colder months. A lunchtime walk can be very restorative.
Not with the TV on, while reading emails and trying to help with someone’s homework! Define a cut-off time for work-related communication and stick to it. Let yourself settle and relax in the evening; you’ll sleep more soundly as a result.
Sleeping well supports your wellbeing significantly. Poor quality sleep can cause physical and mental health issues over time, and affects your concentration, tolerance and perspective. Alcohol doesn’t help – it really does negatively impact sleep quality, so try to have as many alcohol-free days as you can.
5 Connect with people
Stay in touch with your family, friends, peers, customers and suppliers. Networking can be a great way to connect with people who may be in a similar situation to you.
To know ‘it’s not just me’ can be hugely helpful in diffusing any stress or anxiety you’re experiencing. Because it’s not just you; everyone struggles in their business at times. Reach out for support and talk to the people you trust to tell them how things are going.