Work for yourself? Don’t neglect your mental health…

stress at workThis week saw the promotion of #WorldMentalHealthDay and as always it brought forward many stories of the difficulties people face when approaching their employers about mental health issues. However, there was less about the mental health of the self-employed, the start-up or new small business owner. Even if you have been running your own small business for many years, the stresses and day to day strains can take their toll and it pays to be alert to how you feel and address issues before they become overwhelming.

In Somerset, the rural nature of county often results in feelings of isolation for example. So we thought it might be useful to offer a few pointers to ensure your work-life balance is maintained, healthily, and show that your physical and mental health can impact directly on the success of your business.

So:

  • Make sure the number of hours you are working excessive hours. Even if you are working from home, and sometimes because that is where you are based, you can find your work leeching into family time, relaxation and even eating patterns. Learn a few time management techniques, carefully record the amount of time you spend at the desk/bench/front of house and you may be surprised just how little ‘spare’ time you are leaving yourself.
  • Learn what triggers your stress levels to reach harmful proportions. Recognise that a quiet day can be as stressful as a busy one if your livelihood depends on a regular income and make sure you give yourself time to look back at the day an reflect on what could have gone better. If it was a great day, try and work out what went so well and why!
  • Eating properly (and healthily) is vital, as is getting enough sleep – even though when setting up and running a business sleep feels like the last thing you can do. Even if you are thrilled and excited at a new venture, thoughts whirling around in your head can stop you getting the hours of rest you need.
  • Switch off from phones and electronic gizmos that can connect you to work. Or if you must use the iPad or phone in the evenings, switch off those email notifications that are only too tempting to click through to…

Finally, if you do find you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression make sure you contact someone to talk about your feelings.  Organisations such as Mind and Time to Change have a great range of leaflets to look through and take support from and there are a number of hotlines you can call when things seem desperate. The charity SANE takes more than 15,000 calls a year from people experiencing mental health difficulties. See their website HERE for more details. Mind and Samaritans can also help, so pick up that phone at the first sign that something may be wrong.

And don’t be ashamed of your feelings. Many, many successful business people have had similar issues over the years and the more we get mental health ‘out there’ the healthier we will be.

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