Six ways to make mental health your priority

- March 15, 2024 3 MIN READ


Running a business is no small feat, it’s thrilling at times and undeniably stress-inducing at others.  We’ve all been there—when stress is overwhelming and mental exhaustion sets in, it makes running the business even harder and leaves way too much room for slip-ups, writes wellness expert Vesna Hrsto. So, isn’t it time to try a different way?

Amid the chaos of managing finances, people, and business growth, it’s easy for your mental health to slide down the priority list. Yet, just like you’d tune up your car to keep it running smoothly, your mental and physical well-being require regular maintenance. 

Six tips to keep your mental health engines running in tip-top shape

1. Recognise the signs of poor mental health

First things first: be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Mental health struggles can sneak up on you, esp when you’re accustomed to pushing through and ignoring how you feel. Are you feeling more irritable than usual? Struggling to concentrate? Lost motivation or passion for your work? Sleeping too little or too much? These can all be your mind’s way of sending out alarm signals. Acknowledging these signs is the first step toward taking action. Remember, recognising you need a break isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a strategy for long-term resilience.

2. Set yourself boundaries

Setting boundaries is like drawing a protective circle around your personal life and saying, “This is my space, time for me – without work”. Decide on your work hours and stick to them.  Make your bedroom a gadget-free zone to keep work-related stress away from your rest area. Wake up to sunlight or daylight first thing in the morning, not blue light from your phone. Learn to say no—or at least, “not right now”—to demands that stretch you too thin. Having strict boundaries are key for productivity, ensuring you have time to recharge and return to your business challenges with fresh eyes.

3. Link physical and mental health

Your mind and body are one esp in the game of running a successful business. When the body feels good, the mind follows suit. Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, whether it’s a morning jog, a midday yoga session, or an evening walk. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, and provides a productive break from work-related thoughts. Plus, staying active boosts your energy levels, helping you tackle business challenges with more ease.

4. Ask for help

Don’t hesitate to ask for help, whether it’s delegating tasks to lighten your load or seeking professional advice for mental health concerns. Talking to a therapist or a coach can provide new perspectives and coping strategies, while leaning on your personal network offers emotional support. Athletes and high-performers have a coach for this very reason.

5. Focus on sleep

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is your brain’s chance to process the day’s events, rest, and reset. Aim for 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Create a bedtime routine that signals to your body it’s time to wind down: avoid screen time for 30 mins before bed, instead read a book, or meditate. A well-rested mind is more creative, insightful, and equipped to handle the stresses of running a business.

6. Focus on nutrition

What you fuel your body with directly impacts your mental performance. A diet rich in lean proteins from animal sources, vegetables for the microbiome, and healthy fats will provide the nutrients your brain needs to function at its best. Avoid the temptation of quick fixes like caffeine or sugar highs, as these can lead to crashes. Think of your diet as part of your business strategy: by nourishing your body, you’re investing in your business’s most valuable asset—yourself. 

Practice what you preach

Finally, embody the wellness culture you want to see in your business. If you advocate for mental health and well-being among your team, make sure you’re living by those principles. Your actions set the tone for your company’s culture. By taking care of your mental health, you’re not only ensuring your own longevity in the business but also creating an environment where everyone feels supported to do their best work.

In conclusion, maintaining mental health as a business owner isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving. By recognising the signs of mental fatigue, setting clear boundaries, linking your physical and mental health, seeking help when needed, prioritising sleep and nutrition, and practicing what you preach, you can ensure that both you and your business are built to last. Remember, your mental health isn’t just another line item on the balance sheet—it’s the cornerstone of your success.

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