Taking care of your mental health - a guide for small business owners

Health and Wellbeing

This presentation follows on from 'Managing your mental health' and explores signs and triggers for mental health issues for small business owners, and discusses strategies and techniques to improve your mental health.

Key learning outcomes:

  • Small business challenges
  • When to practice self-care
  • Small business goals for improving mental health
  • Plant "SEEDS"
  • Personal strategies for home and work

Taking care of your mental health - guide for small business owners

Taking care of your mental health

I'm Evelyn Garrett from MAX Solutions. This presentation will be looking at taking care of your mental health - a guide for small business owners.

In this presentation we will be looking at:

  • Small business challenges
  • When to practice self-care
  • Small business goals for improving mental health
  • Plant “SEEDS”
  • Personal strategies for home and work
  • Reviewing your values

You can also download the presentation below for further reference, and I encourage you to also write notes while working through this presentation. We'll also look at a support plan for you to create at the end.

Small Business Strategies – symptoms of stress

First we’ll look at some small business strategies. Here are some symptoms of stress that you might be experiencing as a small business owner.

  • Working long hours to meet demand
  • Feeling isolated
  • Managing cash flow and finances
  • Managing multiple roles
  • Blurred boundaries between home and work
  • Meeting legal obligations
  • Managing self and others

When to practice self-care

How do you know when to practice self-care? Do you know what your own signs of stress are? And do you know what your business symptoms of distress are?

For you, as a person, we're going to focus a lot more on this, rather than the business challenges. To know when to focus on your own self-care we can think about:

  • Body
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Behaviours

Early warning signs of stress

The following behaviours or emotions can be signs that you are feeling stressed, which can lead to depression and burnout.

  • Finding is difficult to concentrate on tasks
  • Feeling tired and fatigued
  • Being unusually tearful or emotional
  • Getting angry easily or frustrated with tasks or people
  • Drinking alcohol to cope
  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Procrastination

Common Reactions to Stress

If anything here stands out for you or is causing you worry, this could be something to address with your GP or mental health practitioner.

Small Business Goals for Improving your Mental Health

Review strategies to meet demands on time – routine, prioritise, organise your work space

Manage cash flow and finances – talk with an accountant, network to expand business ideas

Clarify multiple roles – consider extra training (business management or skills development)

Understand legal obligations – use checklists to self-audit

Define boundaries between work and home – family meeting, organise home

Notice and understand your feelings

Understand and enjoy yourself and others – practice self-care strategies at work such as mindfulness, gratitude, affirmations, self-cheerleading, rewards

We’ll also talk a little bit more about some mindfulness strategies as well that you can try and some breathing exercises too.

Plant “SEEDS”

Let’s get into some ideas. I'll talk with you about the “SEEDS” concept first.

SEEDS stands for:

  • Socialise
  • Exercise
  • Education
  • Diet
  • Sleep

These are some self-care strategies that you can do in your personal life and also every day during your work hours as well.

Benefits of socialising

When you consider socialising, this is your chance to be interacting with people within your family, your friends, or colleagues. This can also be applied with networking too. Socialising when you are a small business owner is so important because it can actually help you to remember what your passion is. It can help you to be grounded. It can help you to get rid of those feelings of isolation and it can also counteract against depression as well.

Benefits include:

  • Calms nervous system
  • Oxytocin (feel good hormone)
  • Lowers Cortisol (less stress)
  • Sense of connectedness
  • Problem solving
  • Attention
  • Humour and fun
  • Energy

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise very important for our physical health. It's very important as a mental health intervention as well. There's a lot of research coming out now that if doctors could prescribe physical health they should. There's many benefits to it.

If you can add in an activity every now and then that would be great. 30 minutes a day is all it takes. We have 23 and a half hours to do anything that we want. If we can prioritise 30 minutes within our day, that can make a huge difference.

Benefits include:

  • Calms nervous system
  • Increases Serotonin & Dopamine
  • GABA (calm)
  • Increases Energy
  • Growth of new brain cells
  • Better sleep
  • Increased alertness and thinking
  • Increases attention
  • Expands opportunities to socialise
  • Improves cardiovascular & physical strength
  • Improve flexibility & endurance

Benefits of Education

Education is also hugely important as a small business owner, because this is going to help you to sharpen the skills of your craft. It can also help you to improve your processes, such as business management, so that you can, hopefully, reduce your stress regarding certain tasks with your business.

Benefits include:

  • Improves ability to focus
  • Give you sense of achievement
  • Improves working memory
  • Interest in life
  • Novelty – willing to try new things
  • Increases Serotonin & Dopamine
  • Enhances social connectedness

Benefits of a Healthy Diet

There are so many cliche things that we can say about this. Diet is so important. Similarly to exercise. What you eat and, who you are, is a reflection within the health of your business. By looking after you, you're looking after your business.

  • Calms nervous system
  • Improves brain chemistry
  • Improves brain clarity
  • Improves mood
  • Helps sleep
  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves alertness
  • Improves concentration & ability to focus

Benefits of Sleep

Sleep offers lots of healthy benefits. You should be trying to aim for between seven to ten hours of sleep a night.

If you can, just notice how many hours of sleep you're having. Notice as well if there are things that are taking up your sleep time. We work so hard sometimes that we need some self-care at night, so we have our downtime and then some of that could actually be taking away from some of our sleep time. This can have an impact on our performance the next day. Be mindful about the sorts of things that you're doing in your routine when getting ready for bed, and try to have as many hours of sleep as possible. If you have concerns about the number of hours of sleep that you're getting, you can also talk with your doctor about that. There might be some other strategies as well that they could recommend.

Benefits include:

  • Improves Hippocampus activity
  • Improves memory
  • Increases brain cell growth
  • Increases Serotonin
  • Improves immune system
  • Improves mood
  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves alertness
  • Improves concentration

Personal Strategies: at home and work

Here are some personal strategies that you can apply at home and at work to counter any stress issues.

1. Apply good business strategies

  • Develop your skills in your industry e.g. business management skills and leadership skills to increase your confidence in these areas.
  • Have regular meetings to review your progress

2. Distraction strategies

  • Take a short break e.g. clean, go outside, watch TV, read, gardening, hobbies…then get back to work

3. Grounding strategies

  • Stress balls
  • Fidget spinner
  • Keep a sentimental object with you
  • Deep breathing
  • Mindfulness (paying attention)

4. Processing strategies

  • Notice and understand your feelings and thoughts

>Tune in to feelings and use them as a prompt to pay attention to something e.g. if I am procrastinating, why? Do I need more information? Who can I ask?

>Adjust work tasks during mental health episodes e.g. at work attempt less intense tasks to build progress and confidence

  • Journaling types

>Dear diary

>Reflective improvement

>Pain/Stress Diary

>Urge Diary (Stop Think Act)

>Art Therapy Journal

5. Understand and enjoy yourself and others

  • Practice self-care strategies at work such as mindfulness, gratitude, affirmations, self-cheerleading, rewards

Mindfulness (5,4,3,2,1 techniques)

Mindfulness is an intense awareness of you’re here and now experience. It is a paradox in that you are fully aware of your current experience and yet detached from it too by the very fact that you are observing yourself with openness, curiosity and receptiveness.

How to practice mindfulness

  • Notice 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Exercise: Why I value my business?

Referring to the values slide in the downloadable presentation. Choose your top 10 values. Then narrow this done to your top 3. Is there a link or a common theme between your personal values and your business values?

You might find that at least one of those is also in your values for your business. This actually means that you've got a very good person/job fit. We're looking at you as a person, your interests, your skills, and then your business, what your business goals are your direction. If they are kind of matching that's great.

If you need support please contact any of the following:

Manager Assist Program: 1800 629 277

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Callback: 1300 659 467

When danger is imminent: 000

Listen to the podcast


Download Presentation
Taking care of your mental health (presentation download)

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