Our day to day lives are continuing to change due to COVID and for many people, their livelihoods have been threatened or even stripped away–inevitably creating increased stress and susceptibility to mental ill health. Because of this, talking about mental health has never been more important. As we’ve all learnt to navigate the turbulent year and accept that we have little control over COVID, it’s important to recognise and offer support to those most hard hit by the economic and health crisis.
Some of the worst affected when it comes to COVID-relates stress have been the world’s small business owners. These employers have faced incredible strain to try and keep their heads above water, offer support their staff with limited resources and even keep their staff in jobs in many cases.
Business owners this year have been so busy trying to stay afloat and focusing on supporting their staff that they themselves have often gotten left behind. Here are seven tips to help alleviate stress levels and to support the minds of small business owners as we head into another period of COVID-related restrictions anticipated to further impact the already hard-hit small business sector.
1. Create and respect work-life boundaries
As a business owner, it’s clear you’re passionate about your job and your industry. Because of this it can be hard to keep strict boundaries that separate work life from home life– especially as both now take place in the same location.
By creating a space for work and a space for home, you’ll be able to physically shut the door on work for the day. Even if you spend your evening in the same room that you work in, shift to another seat and pack away your laptop once you’re done for the day. Out of sight, out of mind!
2. Staff benefits are for you too
Any mental health schemes or work perks that you have introduced for your staff should be enjoyed by you too. Whether that is the odd hour off work or mental health training– ensure that you take that same time out. Not only will this set a good example to your employees, it will also benefit your mental health.
3. Take a traffic-light approach to your work hours
As a small business owner, it will be incredibly hard for you to put a hard stop to work hours– it’s probably also unrealistic.
Why not try a traffic-light approach to your work hours. When you’re working you’re on green and are full-steam ahead. As it gets into the early-evening you stay on orange meaning you’re relatively alert and can pick up work if needed. But set yourself a deadline, for example beyond 8pm, you’re onto red meaning you ignore emails and calls. This will allow you to wind down for the evening and get work off of your mind right before bed.
4. Set yourself small daily goals
It’s easy to feel responsible for everything as a small business owner but even you have your own workload.
Write daily to-do lists and tick off tasks as you go but also be flexible. People will likely grab you for things throughout the day and so some of your to-do list may go out the window in favour of ad hoc tasks but by writing down what is on your radar, you’ll be able to get it out of your head.
5. Celebrate every win
Now is not a normal time to be keeping a business going by any means. Remember this and use it to your advantage. The business sphere is incredibly unpredictable at the moment and so as long as you are adapting and surviving, chances are you are doing better than you are giving yourself credit for.
6. Accept that you cannot control COVID
Businesses all over the world are vulnerable right now due to circumstances outside of their own control. Although it is frustrating, try to accept that you cannot control COVID… but you can control how you react to it.
Take it in your stride and use it as an opportunity to grow. Sophie Payne, small business owner at Rabbit Slims Dance and Fitness in Sidcup, England explains “I was less than one year into the creation of my business when COVID hit and I was terrified about surviving the first year. But beyond the initial panic, my small business has come on leaps and bounds. I adapted to zoom dance classes instead of face-to-face classes with children. I also introduced lots of new fitness classes for adults as I saw a demand for it while people were working from home. This allowed me to reach more people than I actually could in the studio.”
7. Take time for the ‘you’ outside of work
You’ve taken time and effort to get to the top of your game but remember there is also a ‘you’ outside of work. Who are you to your family and your friends or even your pet? Remember that this is important too and fostering these relationships will benefit you for your whole lifetime.
About the author
Ian Wright is the founder of Small Business Prices which helps small business owners in the UK to find and compare accurate pricing information across a wide range of products and services, to help them choose the best assets to grow their business. Small Business Prices aims to make these pricing options as transparent as possible for its customers by providing a range of detailed guides, from business loans, credit cards providers, mortgage and insurance providers.