As we start a new year, the start of a new decade, many of us may be tempted to embark on plans to make big changes in our personal lives and businesses, but perhaps focussing on simple things within our control might be more successful.
Throughout the last decade, the incidence of mental ill health and its impact on individuals and businesses has become much more understood and openly talked about. This is a major step forward but as well as being more open to discussing our mental health, perhaps in the next decade we should focus on protecting good mental health, as well as ensuring that those who need access to professional services access them quickly and easily.
The brain is a complicated organ and many things, physical and emotional, large or small can affect our mental health. The following “top-tips”, many of which may seem trivial or obvious, may serve as a gentle reminder for small business owners - both in managing their own mental health and wellbeing but, equally, in promoting the same to their employees, colleagues and families.
Value yourself – not always natural for many of us but try to be proud of your achievements, no matter how small, and those of your team.
Set achievable goals – breaking down large tasks into smaller goals helps bring the satisfaction of seeing progress being made.
Give something back – pursue opportunities to help others, whether it’s volunteering, charitable activities or just helping someone out.
Celebrate success – remember to acknowledge the successes you’ve had and importantly celebrate the success of your employees making them feel valued and appreciated.
Eat Well – ensure that the workplace has the facilities for healthy nutritious food and drink
Exercise – promote regular physical exercise and lead by example, anything from encouraging a walk at lunchtime away from the desk, to discounted gym membership.
Get outdoors – take time to enjoy the outdoors either through physical exercise or a few quiet minutes to relax and breath away the stresses of the day.
Sleep – essential for good physical and mental health, tackle obstacles for good sleep in yourself and notice when employees seem sleep deprived.
Good relationships are good for us - they do take work but are worth the investment
Family first – look after your family, they are your support network and employees are likely to be distracted if they have worries about their families.
Connect with others – running a business can be lonely, take time to connect with others through organisations like FSB, mutual support from others in the same situation can be very helpful.
Listen to and support others – take the time to listen to your employees and colleagues, giving your support to them can help you as much as them.
Tackle unhelpful habits – notice things that are not helping you and get help and support to deal with them. This may be very difficult and require professional help but becoming aware of them is an important first step (to be celebrated)
Ask for help – don’t be afraid to ask for help, your colleagues, family and friends will probably be delighted to help.
Sort out minor niggles – sometimes the smallest things like a creaking door can really wind us up.
Have a plan – a sense of direction for the business (with short-term goals) will bring focus to you and importantly to your employees who will benefit from clarity on the part they play in the success of the business.
Do something you enjoy – quality time off makes your time at work more efficient
Try something new – learning new skills be that work related or personal, adds interest, focus and self-esteem. Development plans for employees can incorporate new skills for those who have the appetite.
Plan and book breaks and holidays – make sure you and your employees take proper breaks from work both on a daily basis and annual leave. This is a legal requirement but common sense too!
Reflect – take time to reflect on your achievements and that of your employees and business as well as good things in life. Gratitude can build happiness, improve sleep and overall wellbeing.
These are 20 simple suggestions for improved wellbeing in yourself and your employees, but of course, they are not a substitute for expert mental health support for those suffering from a mental health condition.
There is a wide range of psychological therapies endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS, but waiting lists are usually very long. Whilst individuals can arrange therapies themselves, it’s important to know what would be most relevant for each individual.
For more resources about wellbeing in small businesses visit our It's ok to talk about mental health campaign page and our Wellbeing Hub. FSB members also have access to FSB Care, if the worst should happen and you’re diagnosed with a serious health condition, including stress or depression, we offer free access to a personal nurse adviser. They’ll provide you with practical information and emotional support.