Right now businesses are re-opening their doors all over the country.
Concern about physical health is our top priority as business owners but we have to monitor mental health as well.
Our customers, staff and we, as business owners, are naturally going to be very cautious about stepping outside and into any business right now. That’s to be expected as anxiety and stress levels are still running so high. So what can we do to help?
What can we do to help as business owners?
Remember we know our businesses best of all, but we need to make decisions based on a clear picture and we cannot do that if we are panicked, stressed or anxious. Our mind simply shuts down when we get stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. I’ll talk more about helping your own stress levels below but let’s look at our businesses first.
We have to get practical here and bring it back to basics if we need to. When we take a step back and look for practical solutions it can also help us to feel less stressed, so that we can take back control of our lives and businesses.
One of the most practical ways we can help our business and mental health, but also your staff’s mental health, is to have a good team of supporters surrounding you.
We all need a positive team of supporters backing us in our daily lives but none more so than in a time of crisis. These supporters need to include professional support such as our accountants and solicitors.
They can provide us with the best information regarding our business plus our staff’s and customer’s health and wellbeing. They can explain what our legal obligations are and what the financial position of the company is.
When we are stressed we can so often attempt to stick our heads in the sand. This only makes matters worse both in practical ways but also in terms of our stress levels. When we face any fears we have it can turn out not as bad as we expected.
Unfortunately our brain is wired to make the worst and not so accurate predictions thus causing us to get caught up in the negative.
Other business owners can also be of great support too. Networking and reaching out to others in our industry that can help us brainstorm new solutions for services, products or perhaps come up with some packages we can offer our customers together is another practical idea.
Utilising our support systems in this way is one very proactive and positive thing we can do for our businesses but it also has the knock on effect of helping to reduce our stress levels.
When we are being proactive leaders and our staff see this, they too can become more proactive in coming up with positive working solutions to help the company also.
We all know that stress among staff can have a huge impact on our businesses. Arguments, higher staff turnover, sickness absence, decreased performance plus more complaints and grievances among our staff are just some of the affects of stress.
We as employers also have a duty of care. Now more than ever we need to put in place effective strategies that can help our staff.
Manager and supervisors can have a key role here if your business has them. They can do a stress risk assessment with your staff. If you are a smaller organization then you may have to complete this yourself.
A stress risk assessment may sound very technical but it’s about having a conversation with our staff and developing an understanding what is causing the stress and doing what we can to mitigate or reduce it.
So this can mean:
- Being more flexible around working hours.
- Having more regular staff check-ins to see how each staff member is coping this is not just regular staff meetings.
- Perhaps more staff training particularly around health and stress management or up skilling for some staff members.
- We can also look at the work environment is it suitable and conducive to good mental health and wellbeing?
But until we have the conversation with our staff we won’t know exactly how and where we can help as the owner of the company.
Getting practical to help your business and your staff is only one side of the picture here. No company runs well if the owner is not looking after their own physical and mental health too. So what can you do to help yourself?
How can we help our mental health as business owners?
If you look at any successful CEO you will see that they take time off from business. They know that this is a good business strategy; it allows their minds to switch off from the pressures of work and engage in some fun and creativity.
They also know that connecting with family and friends, taking time for exercise, pursuing their hobbies and interests all add up to some great stress reduction. After which they return to work feeling fresher and with some new solutions for their business.
As business leaders they know that being less stressed means they are making clearer and better decisions for the company they are in charge of. Stress and anxiety we know will cause us to feel overwhelmed, panicked and our minds shut down as a result. We simply stop seeing the whole picture and therefore can’t make good decisions both in our personal and business lives.
What are some strategies we can adopt that can help us reduce that stress?
1. Calm the mind: If you already do yoga, tai-chi, meditation or any other form of relaxing exercise then please continue to do this. If you don’t then using a simple 7/11 deep breathing technique for three minutes throughout the daywill help calm the mind and bring you back to centre. Remember when we get caught up in a cycle of stress and anxiety it will keep building until we do something to take back control over our thoughts. Simply breathing techniques like the 7/11 technique are one of the best ways you can do this. Another method can be to use a progressive muscle relaxation exercise, you can find one in my free resource library on my website. https://deborahbyrnepsychologyservices.com/resources/
2. Shut off the TV, Social Media notifications and the radio running in the background: In order to help reduce your stress levels further I advise you to switch these off. Even if you just have these playing in the background, and are not actively listening to them, your brain will pick up on them subconsciously. This will feed a negative thought and stress cycle in your brain. Take charge of this cycle by turning them off.
3. Make sure to utilise your support system: I’ve talked about how important it is to network with other businesses and connecting with professional advice but it is also important that we have positive support in our personal life too. Family and friends can offer us emotional and tangible support. They are great for bouncing ideas around with for our business too. But a quick word about family and friends, if anyone is getting too negative then don’t feel guilty about muting, blocking, or deleting them. You need the people around you to be positive right now especially if you are feeling very stressed and anxious.
4. Creating some relaxing or uplifting music playlists and playing those in the background too. These can help you become more relaxed, focused and motivated. Also take some time out to watch some comedy and listen to motivating podcasts.
5. Make sure you are taking care of your self-care basic: So that includes sticking to your routine, exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. I also recommend that you reduce your caffeine intake and drink extra water to flush toxins from your body as you don’t want to compromise your immune system right now. A lot of people are experiencing sleep problems also, so if you need to reach out for help to your GP. I also run a free facebook group for mums, a lot of whom are business owners. I have a free sleep course that you can access in that group, you can join here https://www.facebook.com/groups/622474188484503/
6. Use a journal as a nightly brain dump: This helps you get everything out of your head, so you can relax and get a better night’s sleep. Simply start by writing everything down on a piece of paper, it doesn’t matter if it’s business or personal tasks. Just get it all out, every worry, to do item, etc. This brain dump is also something we can use to help us review everything we do each day. We can review the list and make decisions about the tasks on it. We can use a simple system of:
Prioritise – what tasks need you most attention
Delete – tasks you no longer need to do, after all as busy people we tend to take on too much
Delegate– to others in our work lives or….
Hand back – we also tend to take on other’s responsibilities, now is the time to hand those responsibilities back. You should be left with a more realist to do list once you have reviewed the list. Make sure these are tasks that can be completed easily and in one go. Anything too big needs to be broken down further. If you don’t you will only feed your fears, overwhelm and stress. You are then back in to a vicious cycle in your head of negativity, low motivation and depleting willpower levels. You brain will shut down and you won’t make good decisions for you, your family and your business.
Create a worry period if you need it: That’s a set amount of time when you give over to your worries. You set a timer on your phone for no more than 30 minutes a day. Let your mind go to all the worse case scenarios and fears. But you need to write these down. When you can see you thoughts on paper you can begin to challenge them, or seek some professional advice, i.e. accountant, solicitor, therapist (if needed). Most of the time when we see our worst fears written down it allows us to see we are not thinking rationally and that we can actually do something about the situation or make plans to help us feel more secure. A worry period allows us to relax also and make more calm, logical decisions during the day, as our brain no longer has to hold on to these fears and seek out solutions for them. You can use worry periods everyday if needed or just when you feel things are escalating stress wise for you.
Remember you are doing the best you can. Running yourself into the ground won’t help you, your family or your business. Take time out for your personal life and self-care is now more important than ever.
If you are really struggling please reach out and have a chat with someone, positive friends, family, supports, mentors, or with a therapist if you need it. Rushing in will not give you the best results right now. So take your time, you don’t need to do it all in one day.
For more information on this topic and/or any other queries you may have on stress and wellbeing, please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org You can also find me on Twitter @DBpsychology