This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (10th – 16th May 2021) and so I thought what better topic to talk about than mental health for all those who are running their own businesses out there. It is so easy when you’re self employed or the owner of a small business, to blur the lines between work and home life. You find that you take those calls and answer those emails at the weekend, or you just quickly check in online to see if something has gone to plan or been done.
There are many that would argue that this comes with the territory when you are running a business, and I do agree to a point, commitment is needed especially when you only have yourself to rely on to get things done. However, it’s important to take a step back when you can or try to set some realistic rules/limitations that enable you to have time where you can try to switch off as completely as possible.
The Mental Health Foundation have chosen nature as this year’s theme, which I think is such a key factor in helping us with our mental health. The pandemic has highlighted that more than ever, with so many of us taking to nature for walks and a way to cope with the situation. Research shows that 45% of us have said that being in green spaces has been vital to their mental health. I, for one, can vouch for that. As a family we have always loved going out and exploring, but during lockdown these became something that we could all rely on to switch off from screens, work, school and general worries. We took more time to just talk to each other about anything and nothing.
Below are some simple ways that you can help to stay healthy both physically and mentally when running your own business.
Get out into Nature
Whether you’ve been working from home for the entire year or you’re in an office or out visiting clients, try to spend some time visiting natural places, this could just be a park, a river, gardens or forests. If you’re based in Bedfordshire there are so many places on our doorstep you can go. It doesn’t have to be for long, a simple 30 minute walk at lunchtime can help to lift your mood and refresh your brain ready to get back to it.
Know or Learn how to disconnect from Work
It can be difficult to separate your work and home life, especially when working from home all the time. If you’re able to try to set a dedicated work space, this doesn’t have to be your own room, it could simply be a set space at a table or within a room. Try to stick to the same sort of routine you would if you had to go out to an office. Get up and dressed, have breakfast and set up your work space. At the end of the day, make sure you shut your workspace down and walk away from the area. Try to separate yourself from that space to help your brain to switch off from “work mode”.
Exercise in Nature
If you can exercise, try to do it outside. Running, biking or simply walking will all help to relieve or prevent stress, anger, anxiety and tiredness. Don’t forget to try to actually take in your surroundings as well, listen to what’s around you, take in the sights, smile at someone you pass. It all sounds so simple and it really is. You don’t need to be an athlete to be able to exercise outside, and you might not feel like it before you start, but I promise you, it is a complete mood changer when you do it!
This was a technique I used with my 7-year-old son whenever he got overwhelmed with home-schooling, we would just put on our coats and go for a walk for half an hour. He would leave the house crying or really angry and when we returned, every single time he would be chatting and have a smile on his face, and he would be able to pick it back up with a fresh perspective.
Bring Nature Indoors
If you don’t have your own outside space, or it’s just not easy to get out then why not bring the outdoors inside! Not only are plants a great way of purifying the air in your home, but they can also help to give you a reason to step away from your desk to take care of your plants. Not great with keeping plants alive? No problem, there are a whole load of plants that are virtually unkillable! Give it a Google, I have some myself and I love them!
Set times when you go on a social media blackout
This one can be tricky and will vary depending on what your business is. If you can, pick one day a week, every couple of weeks or even a month where you can put your phone in a drawer and simply switch off from social media. If a whole day is too much to ask, then half a day or even a few hours a day. Setting some dedicated time where you completely switch off from social media or your phone can really help you to just take some time away from work or monitoring your social accounts will really help to take away the digital distractions we get on a daily basis.
Social media is such a great tool to help your business be present to your clients 24/7 but it can also be such a distraction and it is so easy to get sucked into work when you have your business social pages on your Part of my business is social media management, but I still try to make a point to switch off from social media at some point during the weekend.
These are just a few tips that can help you to take care of your mental health when self employed or running a small business. There are lots more tips out there which you can find by simply searching on Google. Also, the Mental Health Foundation have more great tips on how to connect more with nature to improve mental health. I’d love to hear your coping strategies and techniques you use to help your mental health as a business owner, drop them in the comments below and maybe it will help someone else.