Recently, there has been so much talk about mental health and self-care. It is easy to hear it and think it doesn’t apply to you. People are discussing mental health in the workplace which is great, but as an entrepreneur, business owner or sole trader, who’s looking out for us? If we take two weeks off, we lose out, which can lead us to feeling stressed or guilty – it can slowly become a vicious circle. Throughout your business journey it is essential to be able to balance your mental health and career to prevent you from burnout.
The big lesson I learned in 2018 is that mental health is just as important as your physical health. Just like keeping ourselves physically well, by having check-ups and self-awareness of our body health, we have to treat our mental health the same. Prevention is far better than cure, and so is early diagnosis.
No one is perfect; everyone has hard times whether that be in business, or their personal life. It can sometimes be hard to not carry personal issues into the workplace, especially if you’re your own boss. I’ve had difficult times over the last 20 years and I’ve managed to come out the other side. Here is my advice on how you can look out for your mental health throughout your career.
Be aware of the things that can make you feel anxious and stressed
Rather than push through the pain of the recurring feelings of inadequacy; bullying; fears of imposter syndrome; or exhaustion of demands from others, learn about how you can manage these situations and take back control of the life you want to have.
Make the conscious effort to relax
Even during a super busy time, it is essential for both your physical and mental health that you take some time out to put your feet up and relax, even if it’s just for one hour, or practise relaxation methods like meditation or yoga. Taking time to relax has many benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing activity of the stress hormones and reducing muscle tension. All of these benefits will, in turn, help your business.
Spend time with your family and friends
Ensuring you spend quality time with the people closest to you is very important. Having fun and laughing is proven to brighten your mood due to the endorphins released when you’re happy.
Find ‘business friends’ that make you feel in control
Spend time in business with people that inspire you to be the best you. If a networking event or a business event takes away your energy and confidence, then find a new way to meet people regularly. Too many people think that feeling small is their issue, perhaps it is actually the way others communicate that is at fault.
No phone zones
This is one tip that is very helpful. Everyone is connected via their mobiles these days; through social media, emails, calls and texts. Having areas within your home that are ‘no phone zones’ when working hours are over is a fantastic method to stop you getting distracted, to allow you to spend time with loved ones and allow your mind to relax. A great example is the dining area – eat your dinner with friends or family without the distraction of phones pinging.
Out of office
It’s essential to remind yourself that it is okay to have time off. Everyone is entitled to a certain amount of holiday a year (This may be slightly compromised when you are initially starting out). However, time off is crucial for the mind. Set up an out of office email and only respond to ones that are absolutely necessary– be strict though; Set a time slot per day of your holiday that you will allow to check work related emails etc.
Finally, stop overthinking. It can be extremely damaging and can create problems in your mind that probably won’t even happen – it creates unnecessary stress. Calm your mind by listening to your favourite music, reading a book or perhaps try something new and creative. Will the issues that you are overthinking still be a problem in a year, month, or even in a week? If so, pop them into your diary to think about them when it’s suitable and not during your relaxation time. But if they aren’t going to be, then stop overthinking and worrying about issues that are quite honestly irrelevant.
Remember, your mental health is incredibly important. Your brain is one of, if not the, most important organ so ensuring that it’s well looked after is vital. Relax, exercise, spend time with loved ones, build trusting work relationships and look out for yourself in the world of business.