What you need to know to stay healthy in small business

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Pursuing your passion and being your own boss can be both exciting and stressful. Long hours, unpredictable cash flow and multiple responsibilities can make you mentally exhausted, stressed, anxious or depressed. These feelings could challenge your ability to run your business and affect your employees, suppliers, customers and family. Watch out for the warning signs that could indicate you need to manage your stress or perhaps are in need of some support.

What are some of the warning signs?
You may be experiencing stress, anxiety or depression if you are:

  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • feeling irritable, sensitive or teary
  • constantly thinking of work, even during personal time
  • avoiding necessary day-to-day tasks and duties
  • unable to sleep
  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • experiencing changes in your eating or drinking habits

Tips for maintaining a healthy mind
While it can be difficult to find time for yourself when you run your own business, it is important to look after yourself. Here are a few hints:

  • make time for enjoyable activities
  • exercise, sleep and eat healthily
  • practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
  • focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t
  • take regular breaks and holidays
  • outsource tasks rather than doing everything yourself
  • set times when your phone and emails are turned off
  • find or create a support group of peers where everyone can discuss the challenges of running a business

What help and support is available?
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, there are organisations that can provide information and support.

beyondblue provides information on depression, anxiety and suicide. Resources are also available for the workplace and there is a help section for carers, concerned family and friends. Support is available through their helpline 1300 22 4636, via chat or email.

beyondblue has also partnered with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to create Heads Up.

Heads Up encourages everyone in the workplace to play their part in creating a mentally healthy working environment, take care of their own mental health, and look out for their colleagues. Heads Up provides individuals and organisations with free, practical information and resources to create mentally healthy workplaces and respond to mental health issues in the workplace.

Lifeline Australia is a national organisation which provides 24-hour support and suicide prevention services. Information and resources are available for concerned family and friends. Call 13 11 14 or contact them on chat.

Suicide Call Back Service is a free national telephone and online counselling service for anyone who feels suicidal and those affected by suicide. A telephone and online counselling service is available to those who have lost family or a friend to suicide. Call 1300 659 467 to talk to a member of their team.

OzHelp is dedicated to supporting men in the Australian workplace through visits undertaken by trained OzHelp staff members and providing counseling services. Physical and mental health checks can be arranged through OzHelp and counselling is available by calling 1300 694 357 or visiting their website.

Mates in Construction is a charitable organisation focused on reducing the high level of suicide amongst Australian construction workers. If you feel suicidal, or, if you are concerned about someone, call their 24/7 national helpline 1300 642 111.

RUOK? is an Australian not-for-profit organisation with free resources on how to talk to colleagues and employees about mental health.

SANE Australia has anonymous and moderated forums available 24 hours a day for those with a mental illness, plus a guide on how to help in a crisis. A mental health professional is available 9am-5pm on their helpline 1800 18 72 63 or via chat.

Hunter Institute of Mental Health is partnering with small business and mental health partners in NSW to co-design a response that will reduce the onset and impact of mental health problems in those who work in small business. If you would like more information on the project visit Mental health and small business or call 02 4924 6911.

Help is at hand so please reach out 

Support for your business
If you’re worried about how your business is performing, or are involved in a business dispute that’s causing you stress, call 1300 795 534 or email we.assist@smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au.

If your mental well-being is affecting your ability to pay your tax or super, information about how the Australian Taxation Office can support you is available online.

Thanks for the NSW Small Business Commissioner for allowing us to share this information.

R U OK Day takes place on September 14 annually. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental health issues please seek help. Call Lifeline 131141. MensLineAustralia 1300 78 99 78.  Young People aged 12-25 seeking help can call Headspace 1800 650 890 

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How do other people in small business stay healthy?

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