This week, If you haven’t already heard is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Small businesses working from home reap huge benefits; avoiding the need to attend meeting after meeting, no bustling commute, forgoing the stress of the office, and much more, all things we think are pillars of a healthy state of mind. But running a small business and working from home can also have negative consequences for your mental health.
Many who follow Virtual Bird on social media will know we’re massive advocates for mental health awareness and self care, because although our businesses are important, we’re the key figures behind them and it’s important we’re healthy!
With that in mind, I thought we could explore a few of the pitfalls and look at some strategies to manage your mental health effectively.
It’s an obvious thing to say, I know, but working alone can be a lonely place!
Initially that space of quiet and no interruptions when working on your own can be a relief, a welcome change from working with others and the interruptions it brings, but for some, it can lead to a feeling of isolation. When working alone you can sometimes go all day without any human contact, a situation that can really impact on your own mental wellbeing. We are humans, we need interaction!
So, what can we do about it?
Build yourself a tribe! Use your business to connect with people. There are some great ways to do this, and all of these connections not only help you to feel part of a community but can help you to grow your business too.
Social media is a fab way to connect with likeminded people as well as network. My favourite groups are ones that specific to my business niche or local area, I’ve made some great friends this way, as well as business connections!
Not to mention our own Virtual Birds BSG Facebook Group! It’s a great place to meet fellow business owners, everyone is friendly and welcoming, not to mention the great tips and networking!
Have you tried attending one of your local business networking meetings? They’re a great way to make local contacts, and chat about business to share your successes and talk through your woes with people in the flesh.
A lot of small business owners spend a lot of time at their computer – admin is a large chunk of the job (don’t forget to outsource if you need help!). But sitting and staring at a screen for large uninterrupted amounts of time have shown to have huge negative impacts to mental health; unless balanced by a healthy body!
This is quite a simple one. Fit some exercise into your schedule! We all know (myself included) the impact exercise has on our bodies and minds. Not only does it positively enhance your mental health through the hormones it helps produce, it can help you sleep better, concentrate more and therefore increase productivity! Win Win in my book! I love to have little yoga breaks throughout the day, it really helps focus my mind and re-energise my body. If all that sounds a little too daunting, have a browse of your smartphones app store for apps that can help you with exercises at your desk
Even if you just get up to wander to the fridge and back (we all do this!), getting up and refocusing your eyes and having a stretch can have a big impact.
Take A Break – DON’T BURN OUT!!
We all want to be successful, we all want to work our hardest to help our business to succeed, but a major role to play in that is our own well-being. I am as guilty as most when the work load is heavy of ploughing through, being productive and working from dusk until dawn to get things done. But, you cannot sustain a work level such as that!
What Can We Do?
I’ve recently begun to organise my workload and day to ensure that I work a sensible amount of time, and eat lunch … something so simple, but the effect of actually stopping work to concentrate and enjoy my meal is something that has positively helped my day.
The biggest thing we can do for ourselves, the one that has a huge impact, is taking a time out. If you feel like your stress levels are high, don’t let it increase (you can’t be productive when over stressed!). Take a breather. It doesn’t have to be a long one, it can be a few short minutes, but that time, when you are giving yourself and your well-being priority is invaluable.
The way you give yourself that ‘time out’ is totally dependent on you, sometimes a walk in the garden with a brew, or a hot soak in a bath can do the trick. Something I discovered recently was mindfulness apps, and they have honestly changed my life! There are two that I use.
Both these apps have short guided meditations, exercises and visualisations to help you zone in, clam down and focus on your own state of mind. There are options to participate in both short (a few minutes long) sessions, perfect for a quick desk break, and long sessions perfect to gather yourself at the start or end of the day. I can guarantee you will not regret using these to help your mindfulness. Because ultimately, we need to take action before we reach the level of a ‘blow out’.
Get support & reach out
On a final note, if you are struggling with your mental health, please speak up, reach out. To anyone you feel comfortable with. Don’t suffer alone. Mental health issues can be crippling, and seeking help and advice is always best.
The Mind Infoline, is a great source or information and advice.
The details are as follows:
Tel: 0300 123 3393
If you ever need a safe space to talk about your mental health or need pointing in the right place, please get in touch, we’ll do everything we can to point you to the correct organisation that can professionally help you.
You are not alone!
The Mental Health Org has a really nifty, free booklet on how to look after your mental health, download it here
Even though we’re writing this blog post because it’s mental health awareness week, we urge you to take care of yourself every week, not just this week.
You’re important, you matter, this week and every week.
Take care of yourselves and get in touch if you’re struggling or need advice.
Virtual Bird x