Wellbeing tips for business owners
Sunday, October 10th is World Mental Health day and there continues to be a lot of positive activity around employee wellbeing. But as a business owner, it can be easy to forget that you’re an employee too and that you are not immune to mental health issues, indeed running a business can be exceptionally lonely and stressful and with the added anxieties brought about by the pandemic, now more than ever, you need to focus on your wellbeing.
With that in mind, here’s our tips for business owners which we have based loosely around our own Wellbeing Team’s 7 pillars of health and well-being, it’s by no means exhaustive, but designed to lead you in the right direction.
Identify the stress triggers
If you’re not careful, you can become so overwhelmed with stress that you’re not certain what it is that’s causing it. This in itself can be stressful and so the problem becomes self-perpetuating. Take some time out and create a list of things which are stressful. Identify what’s in your control and what isn’t. Then you can prioritise the things in your control and start to take action and work out who can help you to move forward. Put the stuff out of your control to one side, worrying about it is wasted energy.
Be proactive in looking after your mental health
We’re all different, so there is not a one size fits all solution. However, taking regular breaks can give you a fresh perspective. Go for a walk, listen to some music, or even just lie on the floor for 5 minutes and switch off.
Holidays are paramount at the best of times, but with so many travel restrictions in place right now, it’s easy to not bother because you’ve nothing booked. This is a dangerous game as the old adage goes, a change is as good as a rest. So book that week off and switch off.
Pretend you’re out of the office
Sometimes, just having the time to focus and smash through your to do list can have a really rewarding and lasting effect. Don’t be afraid to tell your staff you’re having the day off, put your out of office on, and get your head straight.
Make a working schedule and stick to it
This is important at any time, but with so many business owners working from home the line is so blurred between work life and home life that you can be in business mode 24/7. Be strict with yourself, set yourself strict working hours, switch your laptop off at that time as well as email notifications on your phone. Try organising an activity to coincide with the end of your day, so you have a commitment.
Eat well and exercise regularly
Seems pretty obvious, but it’s easy to forget the basics of keeping yourself healthy. Eating well and at regular intervals can make a big difference to your mind, as can cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. Take time to get fresh air and schedule exercise if you can. Always remember to seek advice when embarking on a new exercise regime.
Make sleep a priority
According to a study by Bensons Beds, the lack of productivity caused by sleeplessness costs businesses £1billion a year. Managing your stress will ultimately help you sleep better, so give yourself enough time to rest your body and mind, this will only make you work better and be more productive. If you are struggling with sleep, you may need to seek professional help.
Give yourself some ‘me time’
Do something you love, regularly. Give yourself time away from your business. You may use that time to think about your business, but whilst doing something else you love.
If you’re managing higher levels of stress these days, there’s a tool we all have immediate access to: breathing. It might sound simple, but when done properly, breathing can make the difference between panic and resilience. Research shows that different emotions are associated with different forms of breathing. For example, when you feel anxious or angry, your breathing becomes irregular, short, and fast. When you feel joy or relaxation, your breathing will be regular, deep, and slow. And believe it or not, when you follow breathing patterns associated with different emotions, you begin to feel those corresponding emotions. So next time you’re feeling stress start to bubble up, try changing the ratio of your inhale to exhale. When you inhale, your heart rate speeds up. When you exhale, it slows down. Take a few minutes and breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of eight — this will calm your nervous system and keep stress at bay. By tweaking your breathing, you’ll start to feel a bit better. (Thank you HBR and Emma Seppälä et al, authors of Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress,”)
Laughter is literally the best medicine and it’s FREE! So, whatever floats your boat, be it your favourite comedy sketch, joke, YouTube clips or just having fun with the family, remember that taking time to laugh will give you a great boost and if you can share the laughter with your team, then even better.
Be proud and remind yourself how great you are
Running your own business is no mean feat, remember that! You should be proud.
Ask for help when you need it
Help can come in many different ways, whether going for a beer or a bike ride with a friend, or seeking a professional to help you deal with stress or even just talking to your family. And if you need business help, talk to your adviser, it’s what they’re there for and remember there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Asking for help can be one of the hardest and yet most liberating things you can do!