The term 'Blue Monday', referring to the third Monday in January, became widely used after British firm Sky Travel calculated it to be the most depressing day of the year. Although frequently leveraged as a marketing device, Blue Monday remains a significant day for reigniting discussions around mental health.
Despite public awareness campaigns, mental illness has remained taboo in the workplace. Given the negative impact on both a business and its staff, brand leaders must create a culture of openness and support to avoid absenteeism, reduced productivity, and staff turnover. Many will look to employee-focused initiatives, but with 80% of business owners experiencing symptoms themselves during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's increasingly important for company bosses to take care of their own mental wellbeing too.
For this year's Blue Monday, Fleximize's CEO, Peter Tuvey, has put together his top seven tips for small business owners to improve their mental health.
1. Be part of a community
A recent survey revealed that around half of SME owners didn’t discuss their problems because they felt others wouldn’t understand. While mental health concerns aren't necessarily career-related, running a business undoubtedly comes with a unique set of challenges.
If you struggle to open up about workplace pressure, consider joining a mental health support group that's targeted towards entrepreneurs. By connecting with people who have similar experiences in a safe space, you may feel more able to share your thoughts and feelings.
2. Set realistic goals
Setting targets, New Year’s resolutions, or action plans is a great way to stay focused. However, it’s essential to be realistic when goal-setting or risk failure simply because your vision wasn’t achievable. Over time, this can be a blow to your confidence.
To prevent disappointment, look at your current output, assess your resources, and identify any barriers to your progress. This will help you set an attainable target in the correct time frame.
3. Celebrate key milestones
Once you’ve reached a significant goal, make sure to recognize the achievement. It’s easy to overlook such moments when you’re busy with day-to-day operations, but breaking sales records or winning a new client are commendable signs that your hard work is paying off. By celebrating key milestones, you can maintain motivation and boost your self-esteem.
4. Separate work and home
While many business owners are familiar with home-working, the pandemic has dramatically reduced our face to face contact with customers, clients, and employees. It has also blurred the lines between work and home, making it much harder to switch off.
To restore balance, try turning off your laptop at a specific time and avoid checking emails on your phone. If you can, keep your work equipment separate from your living space, allowing you to detach from business matters outside your allocated hours. Once you've stepped away from your desk, spending time with friends and family is a great way to de-stress and prevent loneliness.
5. Uplift your environment
Our surroundings can directly influence mental health problems. A bright, clean, and open space that incorporates biophilic design can help you feel positive and relaxed. Investing in ergonomic office furniture will promote a good posture, preventing physical strain and irritability. By tailoring your workspace to your physical and mental needs, you can protect your mindset from environmental stressors.
6. Learn self-care
Self-care techniques and small lifestyle changes can deliver big results for your mental and physical health. Ringfence time for activities that leave you feeling good, whether it’s yoga, cooking, walking, or having coffee with a friend. Discovering therapies you can practice alone is invaluable, particularly if you're not yet ready to share your mental health journey with those around you.
7. Speak up
Like many illnesses, mental health conditions can deteriorate rapidly, so it’s vital to spot early warning signs. You can keep track of your mental state by keeping a mood diary or arranging regular catch-ups to talk about your feelings. Whether it’s a friend, colleague, or medical professional, reaching out for help if you experience symptoms of poor mental health is crucial for getting back on track.
Business owners can perform a critical role in destigmatising mental health in the workplace. By understanding the impact of mental health and the value of transparency, you’re well-positioned to instigate changes that benefit your company and staff.