While many of us are used to discussing physical health, particularly in the context of New Year’s resolutions, mental health can be a touchier subject to tackle. Small business owners deal with a lot, and it can be really hard to separate work from home and manage everything going on in your life. Stress is a normal human coping mechanism in response to external pressures, however, it’s not a sustainable condition meant to be experienced all day, every day. As with physical health, not every approach to mental health and balance is going to work to bring the zen back to your life. So feel free to play around and see what works best for you—here are a few places to start if you’re stuck.
Ask For Help
Often times, small business owners are so used to running the show solo that they forget they can turn to others for help. Trying to juggle everything required to run a small business can be extremely overwhelming, and stress-inducing. Look at the aspects of your business that cause you the most angst: do you get hung up on balancing your sheets or running payroll? Or perhaps the struggle is with tackling meetings with vendors difficult as you simultaneously market and sell to customers? Maybe you thought you could work from home and take care of your kids and house, but finding that it’s hard to manage. Whatever you are struggling with, you don’t have to do it alone. Consider areas where you can shift the responsibility, whether that means hiring an accountant, outsourcing your payroll, and/or hiring a nanny or cleaning service for your house. Take the pressure off of yourself and acknowledge you aren’t in this alone.
Take Time to Be Mindful
How many times a day do you check your phone or send a quick email or text while talking to somebody face to face? How often do you start a task only to start panicking about something else entirely, resulting in you switching gears midway through what you set out to do? It’s time to practice mindfulness.
You have likely heard about this popular trend but may not fully understand it. In short, mindfulness is about living in the present moment and being aware of everything around you without being overwhelmed by what is happening around you. People are often intimidated by practicing mindfulness or meditation and worry they are “doing it wrong.” The beauty of being mindful is that there is no wrong way; in fact, there are multiple ways you can incorporate this practice in your life. Being mindful can be as simple as putting your phone away while you’re at the dinner table or in a one-on-one meeting with an employee, and fully engaging with those around you. You might take it a step further and explore if guided meditations on apps are helpful for you, or commit to spending a few minutes each morning being quiet in your surroundings and reflecting on what you hope to get out of the day.
Take a Social Media Detox
It’s no secret that 2017 has been an overwhelming year for a lot of people. Across the board there were controversies, upsetting news stories, and scary natural disasters. While living in a digital world is great, it can also be mentally exhausting. Being constantly plugged into social media accounts and having the ability to access the internet from the palm of our hand can mean information overload.
On top of what’s happening worldwide, there is also the pressure we put on ourselves to live up to standards that we see on social media from those we follow. Everybody wants to show how great their lives are, but those posts can trigger the “compare game” and make you feel like your accomplishments aren’t enough. Does any of this sound familiar? It may be time to do a social media detox. Worried you won’t last without access to your social networks? Start small. Maybe carve out a few hours each day to specifically not check your phone. You may find the benefits to be instant and be able to spend more time away from your accounts.
We recently shared an article on our Small Business Owner’s Weekly Reading List that said the one trait the best entrepreneurs display is gratitude. In the article, the author shared his experience of having just attended the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He was amazed at how everyone who won said they were so thankful, so humbled, and wouldn’t have been able to achieve that award without help from others.
Everybody has bad days, but it’s important to remember and recognize there is still good in every day. It’s easy to take a few minutes each day and focus on a few things you are grateful for. Studies have shown that taking time to be grateful for what you have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t, leads to increased happiness. Even on bad days there are things to be thankful for, even if it’s as small as you had a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee from your favorite spot.
Recognizing the “rose” in your day along with any “thorn” might seem like a throwback to Greek life in college, but it’s an important exercise to practice to keep yourself mentally healthy as a small business owner.
Much like physical health, practicing mentally healthy habits is less about monumental, single-day transformation, and more about incremental and intentional daily practice. Decreasing stress and channeling happier vibes can lead to positive impacts across all aspects of your life. By living a physically healthier lifestyle, you can give your mental health a boost, as exercise is a proven way to feel better thanks to endorphins. Similarly, by creating space to breathe and focus, you may find more time and drive for physical health pursuits.