Caring for your mental health and wellbeing as a business owner

- November 1, 2022 4 MIN READ

Caring for your mental health as a business owner may feel low on your list of many priorities, however, it is of paramount importance to your business’ survival that you put your own mental health and wellbeing needs first, writes Co-CEO at Pin Payments, Chris Dahl.

The Labor government’s recent $15 million package for mental health support services and debt counselling delivers some much-needed support for business owners who have endured continued hardships these past two years.

The NewAccess for Small Business Owners program is operated by BeyondBlue and partners business owners with specialised mental health professionals, as a free service. Likewise, the funding will support the Small Business Debt Helpline which is operated by Financial Counselling Australia.

Important mental health and wellbeing advice for business owners

Given the ongoing hardships businesses have faced, it’s high time business owners received some support. However, seeking support or maintaining positive mental health isn’t as straightforward as simply calling a hotline.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help business owners take care of their emotional wellbeing.

Maintain a balanced perspective

Sometimes, it can be difficult to see the brighter side of life or business, especially during times of economic and socio-political difficulty. Despite this, stepping away from your business and reflecting on your life holistically can help you find solutions.

According to scientific studies, taking breaks from work and mentally ‘switching off’ can assist your brain in reducing or preventing stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day, and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day. Despite this, 65 per cent of business owners struggle to switch off, even on holidays.

It’s ironic, because we often do things which are counterintuitive to our health and that’s particularly true as a business leader or owner.

Even if it’s five minutes of your day, try to step away from work and life’s stresses and take a few deep breaths. Some meditation apps, like Smiling Mind and Head Space, can help you take a mental break throughout the day. Similarly, getting outside for a walk at lunch time, or even for meetings, has been proven to boost productivity by studies at Harvard University.

It might seem simple, but often we fail to do the smallest things which can make a big difference to our mindset.

Person relaxing on couch with book and dog in their lap

Do not fear vulnerability

Leading academic and social studies researcher, Brene Brown, is a viral sensation for her TED talk and books on vulnerability. She says many of our problems, both in work and social settings, relate back to the fact that we fear being vulnerable. However, vulnerability can be a strength, particularly when that translates to acknowledging your feelings and taking action.

Business owners and leaders are under immense pressure – from a financial viewpoint, operations perspective and employee responsibility standpoint. It’s only natural, in such circumstances, to feel as though you must maintain a steel-like composure. However, this only leads to poor mental health and coping mechanisms.

Being open about your stresses, in a healthy way, actually creates a workplace environment where your staff feel they can express their professional feelings instead of suppressing them. This attitude leads to a more creative and happier team and encourages collaboration and team building.

Likewise, embracing your vulnerability and humanity as a leader also leads to greater empathy towards your staff, stakeholders and personal relationships.

Seek support

If in doubt, or if you require greater support, reaching out to a counsellor or psychologist should be the priority. Proactively working on your mental health is a great first step to ensure you are looking after your own wellbeing, for both your business and overall life.

Whilst some stigma exists with accessing mental health services, perspectives are shifting. Likewise, outside of Labor’s new mental health package for business owners, you can also currently access ten free sessions through your GP under a mental health plan.

mental health support talk

Resources to help

Beyond Blue has some great resources for business owners, such as this simple checklist, which measures a business owner’s mental health. Likewise, HeadGear is a free and easy-to-use smartphone app designed by Black Dog Institute to build resilience and wellbeing, which you can download for free here. Another great resource has been created by Smiling Mind who has also developed a free mindfulness program for small business owners.

Some practical tips from Beyond Blue:

  • Try to maintain perspective
  • Make sure you are accessing accurate information for your situation
  • Try to stick to healthy daily routines
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns and make sure to get enough rest
  • Look after your physical health and find ways to stay active
  • Do something each day that makes you feel good
  • Participate in exercises that you find relaxing, and perhaps try therapeutic activities such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga

You can access the Labor government’s new mental health support services and debt counselling hotlines here. 

More Australian free mental health services:

  • Lifeline 24/7 Crisis Support hotline: 13 11 14
  • Hear2Talk NSW peer-to-peer phone support: 1300 428 255 between 12 noon – 8pm, 7 days per week
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

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Create a mentally healthy workplace: 3 essential ways to support your staff’s wellbeing