Financial wellbeing is important when running a business.
But so is your own personal health and wellness.
In this article, we share five tips that will help you look after your health while you work on building your business.
Here’s what we cover:
- The stress of running a business
- 1. Prioritise your physical health
- 2. Don’t forget your mental health
- 3. Get on top of your time management
- 4. Feeling stale or stuck in rut? Make a change
- 5. Develop a health and wellness strategy
- Final thoughts
The stress of running a business
Launching and managing your own business while working hard to be profitable is exciting and rewarding but it can also be tiring and occasionally emotionally draining.
According to the 2022 AXA SME Wellbeing Report discovered that two in three small business owners don’t feel that they can talk to friends or family about stress because they don’t want to worry them. Nearly half (48%) say they find it difficult to know who they can talk to about their challenges.
But don’t despair.
There are simple actions you can take to safeguard your physical and emotional welfare – and that of your team, if you have employees – while ensuring your business is successful. Managing your time and prioritizing tasks and responsibilities so you don’t feel overwhelmed and find yourself ‘sweating the small stuff’ will also help.
Here’s five to try.
1. Prioritize your physical health
Getting regular physical exercise protect your long term health but it can also make you look and feel better in the short term.
It is recommended that if you’re between the ages of 19 and 64, you should:
- Do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least two days a week
- Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
- Spread exercise evenly over four to five days a week
- Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity
You can also achieve your weekly activity target with:
- Several short sessions of very vigorous intensity activity
- A mix of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity.
Investing in a personal trainer, for example, will add to your motivation and ensure you’re more likely to exercise safely.
2. Don’t forget your mental health
With one in four people experiencing least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year, much of the stigma surrounding mental health problems is now melting away as more of us are willing to accept that sometimes it’s OK not to be OK.
Having trouble sleeping, losing your appetite – or bingeing – as well as snapping at colleagues, family and friends, struggling to focus, and feeling anxious even if you’re not sure why can all be signs of stress and depression.
Physical exercise has been shown to improve mental health and taking time off work to unwind completely, be that at the weekend or when you go on holiday, is also important for good mental health.
Mindfulness and meditation are helping more and more people to manage their mental state. Apps such Calm and Headspace are good for creating daily meditation routines but here are two things that you can do starting now:
Try to be present and live in the moment
Yes, you’ve got a never-ending list of things to do and so your mind might be racing ahead.
Similarly, you could find yourself replaying a conversation in your mind or ruminating on what happened in a meeting.
But by letting these thoughts from the past and future go and focussing instead on the here and now and the task in hand you’ll begin to feel more relaxed and in control.
Take a step back and be aware of your thoughts and feelings
Running your own business can be frustrating and scary but the next time you experience these emotions just take a breath and try to observe them for a moment rather than getting drawn into them.
3. Get on top of your time management
Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list and putting in long hours simply to get little jobs done can damage your mental health.
It can also prevent you from spending time with family and friends or playing sport, doing physical exercise, and enjoying your hobbies – all of which are essential for good mental health.
This is where technology can help.
More and more essential but manual and repetitive tasks can now be automated. Bookkeeping and accounting software can free up your time to focus on the big picture and to develop your business strategy.
It can allow you to spend more time outside the office, as well, relaxing and doing the things other than working.
Technology can now handle everything from managing your employees’ leave to processing expenses claims and systems that once only made sense for larger companies are now cost effective and adaptable for even the smallest businesses.
This gives you more time for a life outside work, something Ben Marks is passionate about. He’s the founder and executive director of the #WorkAnywhere Campaign.
“Establishing life-work boundaries is crucial,” he says. “Overworking ourselves into the ground is symptomatic of our modern culture but ensuring that we’re able to disconnect regularly is key to performing at our physical and mental best.”
Ben also recommends investing in other areas of life.
He says: “Think of this as a diversification strategy for self-esteem. The more developed our relationships and personal interests are, the less work-related pressure and anxiety we experience.
“More than anyone, founders risk burning out – or worse – due to pushing themselves too hard.
“However, another way is possible, one that’s not only healthier but also more productive.”
4. Feeling stale or stuck in rut? Make a change
Changing the way you work, taking time out to review your professional goals or inviting your teams to contribute ideas for new products and services as well as reviewing working practices can turbo-charge your business and open up new opportunities.
It can also boost your energy and create a more optimistic, invigorated working environment for you and your people.
Reaching out for help when you’re struggling can mean simply telling colleagues and your professional network that you need some fresh ideas, new stimulus or recommendations for change.
Alan Mahon is the founder of craft beer delivery and subscription service Brewgooder.
He tells Sage’s Sound Advice podcast: “For me, entrepreneurship is always about energy – you need to be surrounded by people or projects that give you that energy,”
Alan adds: “I used to be addicted to caffeine, because that gave me a bit of pseudo energy.
“When you’re constantly needing to recharge, or you’re not getting that energy, you need to bring in something fresh – that could be a new look and feel or a new product, but often it’s new people.
“If you feel as if you’re hitting a wall, the best thing you can do is try and talk to somebody about it. Can their experiences unlock something in you?
“There’s never too early a time to ask for that help.”
Technology can reveal which products and services are less popular with customers as well as being less profitable. These, you know, should be replaced or updated.
You can also use this technology to understand from sales figures and e-commerce systems, if you have them, what is enjoying increased customer demand.
As well as products, technology can help you to analyze the profitability of individual customers, gaining insights into how much they spend, how quickly they pay, and which products they need and when they need them.
5. Develop a health and wellness strategy
As you know in business, nothing happens unless you make it happen. And that means developing a strategy, getting your people to buy into it, identifying goals and measuring your progress.
The same is true for the health and wellness of both you and your workforce.
Making sure everyone is aware of your physical and mental health strategy and that they are given advice and help so they can take part in it and benefit from it is also important.
Jordan Price is co-founder of Small City Marketing, a digital marketing micro-agency with a team of four.
She says: “Where most organisations will have regular forecast meetings, or progress meetings, we have mandatory welfare meetings each month.
“We discuss how we are feeling about the volume of workload, whether there are any issues with the type of work being assigned, whether any of our staff are experiencing fatigue, burnout or are generally feeling unmotivated, and what we can do to ensure everyone feels excited to work on projects and physically and mentally capable of carrying out tasks.
“We also have an open-door policy, so if anyone wants to discuss more personal matters which may be affecting work, they can do so in a supportive environment.”
Jessica Flinn-Allen, CEO of Jessica Flinn Fine Jewellery, says: “Encourage and support your employees to take mental health days when needed.
“By acknowledging the significance of mental health and allowing dedicated time off, you demonstrate that their wellbeing matters to the company.
“Create engaging wellbeing challenges within your organization. These challenges can promote healthy habits, encourage self-care practices, and foster a sense of camaraderie among employees. They can range from physical activities like step challenges to mindfulness and gratitude practices.”
Jessica has also identified a number of personal strategies that bolster her physical and mental health. These involve strategic planning of her time off.
She says: “Schedule annual leave after key stressful events or periods. This ensures that you have designated time to rest and recharge, helping to prevent burnout and maintain your overall wellbeing.”
Using technology can help to manage annual leave more effectively as well as carrying out business processes automatically, so you have more time to spend resting and recharging.
Embracing new opportunities is important in business but it’s also essential for your mental and physical health not to bite off more than you can chew.
“Get into the habit of saying ‘no’,” advises Suzy Glaskie, a former PR boss who retrained as a health coach following her own experience of burnout.
She’s the founder of Peppermint Wellness and host of the Midlife Illuminated podcast.
Suzy says: “Respect the limits of your energy and be choosy about what you commit yourself to. Recognize that if you take energy out of your energy bank, you then need to put some energy back in.
“Schedule me-time into your diary and be strict about it. Whether it’s going for a walk in nature, or having a long soak in the bath, honor your body’s need for regular downtime.”
Just as you develop a strategy for your business and then invest time and money to deliver on it, – you should do the same for your health and wellbeing.
Investment here can bring significant returns for you and your team – both professionally and personally.
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