Every small business owner knows that your business isn’t just a business. It’s your baby. And like every good “parent,” you want to do everything in your power to ensure your baby grows up healthy and strong. That can mean lots of sleepless nights, lots of missed weekends and vacations, and lots of responsibility piled on one person’s shoulders.
But “parenting” your company to success shouldn’t and, indeed, mustn’t mean sacrificing yourself in the process. In fact, it’s not just helpful to practice self-care when running a small business, it’s essential. And a key component of that comes through nurturing your own mental health. This article will show you why cultivating your mental and emotional well-being is good both for you and your business.
Keeping You Healthy and Strong
You are the heart of your business. No one knows it better or loves it more than you do. But that passion project comes with a lot of responsibility. The fact that you have so many people depending on you, from your customers to your employees, is probably never far from your mind.
That is precisely why taking care of yourself is so vital. When you get sick, your company gets sick, and the people who rely on you may suffer. That’s why taking care of yourself is so important. And because physical health and mental health are intimately and inextricably connected, when you take steps to nurture your emotional health, what you’re really doing is working to stay healthy and strong for yourself, your business, your clients, and your team.
As much as you may love your work, there’s no denying that owning a small business is stressful. Entrepreneurs wear many hats at once: They must care for their customers, they must build and lead their staff, and they must constantly attend to the financial and operational health of the business.
That’s a tremendous amount of pressure, and if you don’t take steps to manage your stress effectively, then that tension is going to have a spillover effect, compromising the quality of your relationships with your employees and customers alike.
For instance, dealing with difficult clients is an inevitable facet of business ownership, no matter what your industry, product, or service. But you’re not going to be able to manage complex client relationships successfully if you are overwhelmed, overtired, and overburdened. When you’re exhausted and frustrated, your brain literally cannot function at optimal levels. Your critical thinking and creative problem-solving abilities are compromised, and without these, your capacity to manage difficult clients with tact, insight, and diplomacy is diminished. And that puts you at risk not only of losing clients but of tarnishing your brand.
However, failure to attend to your mental health doesn’t just affect your relationships with your customers, it also impacts your ability to lead your employees. After all, the same negative emotions that can be so detrimental to your interactions with customers also affect your relationships with your staff. Caring for your psychological well-being will enhance your ability to lead your team, manage difficult and struggling employees, and promote staff excellence in the face of constantly evolving and increasingly competitive business environments.
Your team needs and deserves a calm, steady, and happy leader. You are the face of the company and the most important role model for your employees. When they see you harried, stressed, and worried, they’re going to emulate that, consciously or not, and the overall work environment will suffer.
On the other hand, when they see you poised, centered, and well, their own anxiety will decrease, which has a direct and positive impact on both productivity and job satisfaction. Best of all, when your employees see you practicing self-care, such as taking regular vacations or incorporating breaks for rest and exercise into the workday, they are far more likely to adopt such behaviors themselves. Ultimately, this will contribute to a healthier, happier, and higher-performing workforce all around.
How To Do It
There’s no one right or wrong way to manage your mental health when you are a small business owner. Strategies that are most effective for you may not work for someone else. The key is to determine what you need, what you want, and what you love, and to commit to incorporating those things into your daily routine.
Do you love spending time in nature? Then make sure to carve out an hour or so before or after work each day to go for a walk or simply sit in the sunshine on your back porch.
Do you find that you have trouble sleeping at night? Then create a nighttime ritual that helps ensure you get the solid 7-9 hours most adults need for their physical and emotional health. This should include a firm cutoff time for all work, usually at least an hour or two before bed. Your employees need to know that during this golden time between your pre-sleep ritual and the official start of the next workday, you will not be checking texts, emails, voicemails, or other messages unless a life-or-death emergency has occurred.
Remember, though, that your de-stress rituals only work if you work them. If you find you can’t resist checking your email or looking at your phone, then lock your devices up during your off hours.
Of course, unplugging can be scary for a small business owner, to be sure, but that’s where another critical attribute of self-care comes in. No one can do it all, and one of the best ways to de-stress is to delegate. Assign trusted employees to command the ship during your off hours. Allow your team members to take responsibility for tasks at which they excel, which will not only lighten your load but will ensure that work assignments always fall into the best possible hands.
When you’re a small business owner, taking care of your business means taking care of yourself. That includes prioritizing your mental health to ensure that you remain healthy, strong, and effective for your company, your clients, and your employees.