There are plenty of positives to owning a small business – flexibility, being your own boss, financial benefits, and many more. But, it’s no secret there are challenges too. And small business owners have had a particularly tough few years: navigating a global pandemic, various lockdown restrictions, staff shortages, increasing costs of raw materials, and high inflation.
Our report released last week, The global state of small business owner wellbeing, revealed that in five of the seven countries we studied (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States), small business owners had an overall lower life satisfaction than the general population. The exceptions were South Africa and Singapore.
We also discovered that time off work far from guarantees restedness – and it is essential for small businesses to address the underlying causes of stress in our work, ensuring tolerable job demands, role clarity, agency, and positive relationships.
Taking smaller regular daily breaks, stress management, and mindset all play a huge and undervalued role in positively impacting the wellbeing of small business owners.
With this in mind, it may be beneficial for small business owners to focus on strategies that help you achieve rest and relaxation everyday. We’ve put together some strategies you can implement during your workday to help recharge your batteries and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Engage in mastery activities. There are more effective and less effective ways of relaxing. Research shows that for many people, engaging in a mastery activity such as chess or painting can be more restorative than plain rest. In fact, people who achieve some kind of mastery during their time off are more energetic and enthusiastic on their return to work.
- Take breaks throughout your workday. You probably already know the importance of taking time out during the workday. But did you know that even a micro break of under 10 minutes is enough to help you feel less fatigued and boost your wellbeing? So make a habit of stopping work for a few minutes to stretch, take a quick walk, grab a coffee or spend some time outside.
- Detach psychologically from work. Do you find yourself taking your work stress or frustrations home with you? Or find it hard to stop thinking about work to truly relax? Creating a ‘third space’ can help you to switch off at the end of the day. The third space is what we do as we transition between two different roles/environments – like work and home. Taking time to rest, relax and reset during this transition can help you achieve better work life balance.
- You can also incorporate a ‘third space’ into your workday. If you’re finishing a meeting and moving to another task, take a minute to pause and reset your mindset. Or if you are making client calls, create a third space between each one to relax and set your intentions for the next call.
- Change up your environment. One area that can have a huge positive impact on your wellbeing is making small changes to your environment. Consider implementing some physical cues that remind your brain that you’re not at work, For example, at the end of the day you could switch off a certain lamp and/or change out of your work clothes. Get out into nature – there’s loads of research into the impact of natural settings not only on stress reduction, but on their ability to restore attention.
- Sleep is vital. Sleep is as important for your overall health as good nutrition and exercise. It improves your brain functioning, emotional wellbeing, physical health and daytime performance. A good night’s sleep can better equip you to deal with the demands of running a small business, leading to better overall wellbeing.
- Practice good sleep hygiene by setting a consistent sleep schedule, establishing a good nightly routine and ensuring your daily activities support good sleep. Small changes, such as reducing screen time before bed by plugging your phone in on the other side of the bedroom, or putting a book on your bedside, rather than an iPad, are a couple of really simple, actionable changes that support good sleep.
- If you find yourself awake at odd hours not being able to switch off, try creating and keeping a system that captures all of your work related tasks in one place. When you finish work, spend five minutes getting any work-related tasks out of your mind and onto paper. Your brain will be less inclined to wake you up during the night, worrying about these tasks if they are out of your mind and in a system that you trust you will action the next day.
- Perhaps most importantly: you can’t recharge yourself out of a bad situation. If your work demands are burning you out, or there’s stress at home impacting your wellbeing, the above strategies might make you temporarily feel better – but they are not going to fix the underlying issue. Clearly identifying the demands in your work and taking action to bring these to a business advisor, mentor, or counsellor may help you address these issues and get on the road to recovery. Look into what programs are available locally – for example, in Australia, programs such as Beyond Blue offer knowledge and resources to help support mental health and wellbeing.
With these strategies in place, we hope you can better recharge your batteries and see an overall improvement to your wellbeing.