Building mental resilience
There are plenty of pressures that come with being a business owner. Keeping on top of mental and physical health, creating balance in your life and allowing yourself the opportunity for rest and downtime is necessary for you to continue to do your best work. We have some tips to keep you on your path.
Maintaining your mental and physical health
You are your greatest business asset. And like any asset, the better you take care of it, the better it will perform. Self-care practices should be an integrated part of your personal and professional life, rather than treated as a ‘nice to have’ or something that happens when you hit a physical or emotional hurdle.
There is no health without mental health, so don’t underestimate the importance of managing and reducing stressors early, before they become burdens.
Being mentally resilient
Mental toughness is about your ability to rebound from setbacks and disappointments, to be flexible, have a strong self-belief, persevere through the challenges and respond to situations effectively with calmness, focus, and presence of mind.
Being mentally tough doesn’t mean you can’t be vulnerable, speak up about challenges or give yourself time to rest. We all experience challenges, but with the right tools and support around you, you can build resilience - and help others to do the same.
- Talking to family, friends and positive people. Even chatting about your challenges can help bring perspective and get you ‘out of your head’ and more focused on solutions.
- Contacting business owners with similar issues and identify their solutions. You’re not alone; chances are, someone else has faced similar challenges. Speak up and ask for advice - you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to listen and lend some help.
- Collaborating with complementary businesses and share the solution. A problem shared is a problem halved. Pooling resources can benefit both businesses and help get you through more challenging times.
- Focusing on small wins rather than trying to solve everything. Set yourself realistic to-do lists and work on what you have achieved, rather than what you’ve still got on your plate.
- Setting short-term achievable goals and celebrate every success. Having a big vision is great but reward yourself for the work you do along the way - you might be surprised just how far you’ve already come.
Protecting your mental health
Changes in our lives, uncertainty, loss of income, lack of routines, taking on too much at once – these are some things that can lead to small business owner stress and cause mental health issues. To help overcome any rising stress levels, consider:
- Recognizing any pre-anxiety signs. Symptoms can be emotional and physical so listen to your body when it begins to show signs of stress (feeling unwell, unable to sleep), and chat to a support person or medical professional for further advice.
- Reducing uncertainty and managing what you can control. Often stress comes from a sense of being overwhelmed, so taking a step back, saying ‘no’, then delegating or asking for help can help lessen your load.
- Doing something you love to do. Spend time with loved ones and some time each week with your favorite hobby or sport. Get outside for the activities that leave you feeling uplifted. Exercise is a great way to enhance your mood.
- Repositioning challenges as learning opportunities to improve your skills.
- Eating well. Good nutrition is not only important for physical health, but for your mental wellbeing too.
Improving health while working from home
Working from home comes with its benefits, but it can also be isolating. Finding a balance between work and home life can also come with its challenges. Here are some ideas to incorporate health into your work at home routine:
- Set a work schedule. Good boundaries around personal time and work hours are necessary to ensure you still allow for time to unwind, destress, relax and connect with family.
- Stand up. Sitting at a desk for hours isn’t ideal. Ensure you have an ergonomic workspace that supports good posture. Stand up regularly for a brief walk and stretch.
- Take a break. Remember to schedule regular breaks away from your screen. Take a few minutes outside in fresh air and natural light - you need natural light to produce melatonin, which makes you feel happier, less tired and regulates your hormones.
- Avoid video conferencing overload. Online fatigue is a thing! Cognitive load is high in video calls and maintaining eye contact for long periods is also draining, so ensure you pace your calendar to allow yourself to have breaks.
- Connect with your network. Without the social interaction of a workplace, it's easy to feel isolated. So whether it’s virtually or in-person, stay connected with colleagues and friends and reach out to others when you’re feeling low or lonely.
- Reward yourself along the way. Treat yourself, take yourself out for a coffee or a lunch in a cafe, schedule a walk for some ‘me’ time or shut the laptop down an hour early to enjoy some time with family or friends.
Seek professional help if you need to
If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, be sure to reach out for assistance. It’s rare for anyone to run their business without help or advice. Developing mental resilience is as much as knowing when to seek help and who from.
There are a number of business support agencies designed to help you, such as:
- MentalHealth.gov has information to support good mental health, and offers resources and experts. The site also lists hotline telephone numbers for immediate help.
- The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website has a list of support resources for people concerned about mental health or who are in distress.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA.gov) offers a national disaster distress helpline.
Finally, if you know of another business owner under stress, reach out to them to make sure they are okay and let them know you are there for them.
- Try to identify the actual cause of any mental or physical stress, seek the opinions of those you trust and take the first step to asking for help.
- Make a positive list of actions you feel are achievable and then schedule to tick them off.
- If you need professional help along the way, be sure to reach out.