The last two and a half years have been tough on everyone, especially small business owners. It’s enough pressure to keep a business running during normal times, but having to navigate a global pandemic from both a personal and entrepreneurial perspective can take a serious toll on your mental health.
Now is a better time than ever to prioritize your emotional and mental wellbeing, so you can be sure you’re ready to take on whatever challenges come next.
How financial stress can affect mental health
Small business owners aren’t exactly known for having an ‘off’ switch. Many entrepreneurs are thinking about how to solve business problems from the time they wake up in the morning until the moment they fall asleep. Business stress often spills over into your personal life and can become all-consuming if left unaddressed. Financial challenges, in particular, can be one of the top contributors to mental health decline in entrepreneurs.
When you’re hyper-focused on immediate financial concerns, like cash flow issues or a slowdown in sales, you’re unable to focus on your long-term company vision. The longer these issues persist, financial stress can develop into other types of anxiety and interrupt your sleep schedule, exercise habits, and more. That’s why it’s important to have a team you trust to help tackle issues as they arise, so you can breathe and get back to focusing on big-picture goals.
7 ways to manage your stress as a business owner
How do you keep financial stress and other everyday business stressors from snowballing into a full-blown mental health crisis? Here are some actions you can take today to effectively manage the stress that comes with managing a business.
1. Be aware of what’s stressing you out
First and foremost, you’ll want to pinpoint what’s contributing to your anxiety. If it’s something that comes with the job, maybe there’s a way to delegate some of your tasks to a business partner or team member. If it’s a personal matter that’s adding to your work stress, consider taking some time off until you can resolve the issue. After all, owning a business is a balancing act between your personal and professional life––make sure you’re giving each the attention it deserves.
2. Focus on the positive
Adopting a positive mindset is a great starting point for dealing with stress. Identify what you’re grateful for and use that gratitude to help put what’s stressing you out into perspective. It’s also crucial to avoid engaging in negative thinking or conversation. Negativity can be contagious, not to mention damaging to your morale over time.
3. Maintain a schedule
You might not always stick to it, but approaching each day methodically can help your to-do list seem less overwhelming. The process of listing tasks out makes them more digestible and manageable. Plus, by scheduling out your day or week, you’re able to make sure you set aside time for meals, workouts, sleep, and family/social activities.
4. Prioritize self-care
Part of maintaining a schedule is knowing when to disconnect. You don’t need to work 24/7––that’s simply not sustainable. Maintain an exercise and/or meditation routine, don’t skip meals, and commit to sleeping a certain amount of hours per night. Treat your non-working time like it’s sacred to avoid burnout.
5. Say ‘no’
Every effective leader knows how and when to say no. As a small business owner, you’ve got too much on your plate to take on everything that’s asked of you. Prioritize high-value tasks and requests, especially ones only you can complete. The rest can either be revisited later, or done by someone else.
6 Ask for help
When it comes to prioritizing or dealing with an overwhelming amount of stress, you should feel comfortable delegating certain tasks to your team. There’s a reason you hired them––they’re perfectly capable of handling whatever you need them to. It’s also okay to ask for professional or emotional guidance when you need it, whether it’s support from your partner, a mentor, or a therapist.
7. Take time off
Don’t be afraid to step away every so often and take a vacation. It’s amazing what quality time with friends and family can do for your mental wellbeing, especially for someone whose job doesn’t end when the laptop closes.
More mental health resources for entrepreneurs
Curious in learning more about how you can prioritize your mental health as a small business owner? Here are a few additional tips:
- Join a global online community like Entrepreneurs’ Organization, where you can get support from 17,500+ fellow business owners
- Access online tools and programs via Econa, “the global center of excellence for entrepreneur mental wellness”
- Apply for a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help fund projects that improve mental health at your company and beyond
How to support your team’s mental health
Culture starts at the top. Regardless of how big your team is, it’s important to set the tone for your entire company by prioritizing your health and wellness. By setting the right example–– approaching problems with a positive attitude, encouraging team members to take vacations, etc.––you can instill a sense of calm and create a safe, welcoming environment for all.
You can also offer employees access to mental health tools like Modern Health or Headspace, flexible PTO for mental health days, and conduct frequent check-ins or engagement surveys to gauge workloads and help prevent burnout.
When you take care of yourself and your team, the productivity and success will follow.