There are many advantages to being a small business owner, the appeal is self-explanatory.
It gives you the freedom to express your creativity in almost any way you so desire, to be your own boss, to be in control and cater your business to fit your lifestyle.
However, the psychological, emotional stress is often overlooked. Being your own boss, and the boss of others carries an enormous amount responsibility and in turn, and can result in the degradation of your emotional health.
Larger businesses and organisations have HR resources and usually have mental health programs outlined and readily available. On a smaller scale, these resources are not available and can lead to a business owner feelings as though they have no one to rely on.
Pressures ranging from the stress of financial inconsistently and long hours – business owners often feel as though work never ends… following them throughout all aspects of their life. Work and leisure become completely intertwined and it seems almost impossible to tap out. Business owners often feel isolated, no one is as invested and putting in the time or effort into your business as you are… this can be frustrating, and put a strain on relationships with your employees.
Running a small business usually accompanies major burdens, yet very little support. The combination of the unpredictable nature of small businesses, and the major responsibility towards family and employees places a lot of pressure on an individual. The notion of a failing business accompanies a sense of failing those you support and care for.
All these factors put immense pressure on emotional stability and overall happiness, and can swiftly manifest into anxiety and depression.
Here are some steps you can take to work towards/maintain your mental wellbeing…
Don’t forget the simple things – eat balanced meals and sleep 7-9 hours per night.
An important skill is practising the ability to say no if your time spent working is reaching capacity. Don’t allow yourself to abandon all of your down time.
Set aside certain times, whether it be alone time or time spent with family or friends, where you do not talk about your business, don’t take calls or send emails. Depending on the kind of business you run, this could range from your entire Sunday, or maybe just at meal times.
You might also want to see a psychologist or councillor. Even if you don’t feel as though you are anxious to a problematic extent… it can still be highly beneficial to talk through your concerns with someone who has a value-neutral, objective standpoint. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a highly effective method of managing any mental roadblocks.
Networking is not only a great way to establish relationships with people with the purpose of it being mutually beneficial for your businesses, but can also be a means of establishing a connection with someone who understands your standpoint, and minimise feelings of isolation.
Maintain a work-life balance. If important relationships are strained because of your commitment to your work exceeds your commitment to your loved ones, this will only elevate your stress levels and impair your happiness. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by your work. Constantly sacrificing your relationships for work commitments, will only worsen any anxious or depressive symptoms. Not feeling as though you can anyone to lean on emotionally, will inhibit your ability to function effectively. This paradox will ultimately betray you.
Develop habits during which you condition yourself to forget about your business. Engage in a talent, hobby or activity that you enjoy and that preoccupies you. For example, a daily run or bike ride. Maybe a weekly yoga class. Make sure the activity you choose is rewarding and therapeutic.
Although it may feel as though sacrificing time spent on work will be detrimental for your business… remember that the most detrimental thing you could do is not take care of your body and mind.