A few minutes a day can help business owners build positive mental health habits

- November 9, 2022 3 MIN READ

MYOB’s Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, shares why they have partnered with the Smiling Mind Small Business Program to help employees and business owners take better care of their mental health.

Years of pandemic uncertainty, coupled with supply chain challenges, staff shortages and economic downturn, have created a stressful environment for small business owners and operators. It’s no surprise that they are feeling the pressure.

A recent MYOB survey of 257 Australian small business owners found COVID-19 and its wider economic impact, was the key business-related cause of mental health challenges for a quarter of respondents within the last year. This was followed by financial concerns, or cash flow (20 per cent).

The survey also revealed that 61 percent agree running a small business has had a direct impact on their feelings of anxiety and/or depression. Of those surveyed, 56 per cent reported that running their businesses has caused them stress, 50 per cent have experienced anxiety, and 25 per cent have suffered depression, at some point in the last 12 months.

Positive mental health habits are essential for business owners

With Australia’s small businesses numbering 2.5 million, and contributing more than half of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product), the impacts of these mental health challenges could be significant.

So, how can small business owners and operators face their unique challenges without succumbing to burnout or mental exhaustion?

It’s important to remember that while challenging, running a small business can be highly rewarding – both financially and personally. The satisfaction of building a business from the ground up, learning on the job, being your own boss and rising to new challenges, are all reasons Australia’s small business community is booming, employing more than seven million people.

While there’s no simple solution, taking a proactive approach to building resilience and wellbeing can help prevent mental health issues when stressors arise. It’s about preparing the mind to cope with challenges and establishing healthy habits.

woman meditating or praying outdoors

Smiling Mind Small Business Program

We’ve been partnered with Smiling Mind, creator of Australia’s number one mindfulness app, since 2019. The free Smiling Mind Small Business Program offers mindfulness activities specifically designed to bolster the mental health of small business owners. New, recently added modules are the latest in a set of tools we’ve helped create and build awareness for.

Mindfulness is targeted at preventative behaviours and to avoid stresses escalating into more serious conditions. It’s about paying attention to the present moment, and helping individuals focus their attention and energy to counteract feelings of overwhelm.

For small business owners, practicing mindfulness is about prioritising time for themselves, proactively building healthy mental habits, and getting out of overloaded auto-pilot mode.

Five to ten minutes of mindfulness per day is all that’s needed to start to see a real difference in wellbeing and resilience. As with any healthy habit, it’s a case of starting small and committing to a regular practice to build strong foundations for positive mental health.

The Smiling Mind Small Business Program includes mindfulness exercises from breathing for stress management and building resilience, to tools designed to help form stronger relationships with team members.

For small business owners who may feel isolated or overwhelmed by running a business, the benefits are compelling: increased productivity and attention, heightened performance, clearer focus and increased resilience are all proven to be linked to regular mindfulness practices.

When it comes to mindfulness and mental resilience, small steps can add up to a big change.

Woman relaxing with eyes closed on park bench

Top tips for building healthy mental habits

  • Choose a time of day to commit to mindfulness – such as every morning when you first wake up, or every evening as you’re preparing for bed.
  • Commit to at least five minutes of mindful meditation each day, using the free Smiling Mind Small Business program.
  • Share the benefits with your team – you could start meetings with a short, guided meditation from Smiling Mind, or simply encourage them to use the app too.
  • Move your body every day – it could be a run, a bike ride, a gym visit, or even just a lunchtime walk in the fresh air.
  • Be clear on your values and purpose – remember why you started your business, and connect to what’s important.

Find out more at: smilingmind.com.au/small-business

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