A poll by AXA PPP healthcare reveals how small business owners are putting their health on the back burner to focus on their work.
Of those who said that running a business has affected their health and wellbeing in a negative way, more than eight in 10 said that it has caused them stress, followed by 7 in ten saying they had sleepless nights. Over four in ten (43%) said it made them want to give up.
Whilst running a small business can be rewarding and exciting, it’s all too easy to find yourself consumed by the work snowball and thriving on adrenalin at the expense of your health. Of those 500 SMEs surveyed, almost six in 10 say they rarely switch their phone off, and over a third (39%) said they rarely take days off.
The research also revealed:
- Nineteen per cent say that their overall health has deteriorated as a result of starting their business
- A fifth say their physical health has been affected and worryingly a quarter say that running a business has had a negative effect on their mental health
- Two in 10 say that running a business has had a negative impact on their marriage or relationships
To help readdress the work life balance, AXA PPP healthcare senior psychologist Dr Mark Winwood has created a checklist:
Check in on yourself: Take time to sense-check how you’re feeling mentally and physically. Stress can build up over time, wearing you down slowly so you don’t initially notice those tell-tale signs
Diet and exercise can have an uplifting effect on mood and psychological wellbeing. Be kind to yourself by maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Encouragingly over a quarter (27%) of those we surveyed said getting more exercise is the one thing they could do to improve their mood or general health and wellbeing. And they’re right – exercise helps release endorphins and relieve stress. Why not exercise before the work day starts, take a walk at lunch time or hit the gym at the end of the day.
Take time out: Working all hours or taking unnecessary calls at unsociable hours might, ultimately, do you no favours. By having a clear boundary between work and ‘home’ life, you’ll most likely find you have more focus and more energy to tackle your tasks. Try to have set working times and places. Turn off your laptop at a set time and don’t return to it. Practicing mindfulness – taking a quiet moment to observe your breath and allowing your thoughts and feelings to pass without judgement – can bring profound benefits to those who regularly commit time to it.
Take time off: Don’t work all weekend, every weekend – try booking breaks or holidays in advance so you’re committed to them and have something to look forward to! And plan your workload accordingly leading up to those well-deserved time-outs.
Talk. And share. Develop your own network of people upon whom you can call through sites such as LinkedIn and take advantage of professional membership organisations too. Find other SME owners who will understand the pressures of business life. Talk, offload and ask for counsel.
And sleep… don’t overlook the importance and simple beauty of a good night’s sleep in keeping you refreshed so that you can be at your best – for you and for your business.