There are many advantages to owning a small business – flexibility, being your own boss, financial benefits and more. But it’s no secret that there are challenges. And small business owners have had a particularly tough year: navigating the global pandemic, various lockdown restrictions, staff shortages, rising raw material costs and high inflation.
Our report was published last week, The global state of small business owner well-being, 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 have lower overall life satisfaction than the general population. The exceptions were South Africa and Singapore.
We’ve also found that time off is far from a guarantee of time off – and it’s essential for small businesses to address the stressors in our work, ensuring tolerable work demands, role clarity, agency and positive relationships.
Small, regular daily breaks, stress management, and mindfulness play a large and underappreciated role in positively impacting the well-being of small business owners.
With this in mind, it can be beneficial for small business owners to focus on strategies that can help them achieve daily rest and relaxation. We’ve put together some strategies you can implement during your workday to help recharge your batteries and improve your overall well-being.
- Engage in hands-on activities. There are more effective and less effective ways to relax. Research has shown that for many people, engaging in a skill-based activity such as playing chess or drawing can be more restorative than traditional leisure activities. In fact, people who achieve some mastery while on vacation are more energetic and enthusiastic when they return to work.
- Take a break throughout the working day. You probably already know the importance of setting aside time during the work day. But did you know that even a 10-minute micro-break is enough to make you feel less tired and increase your well-being? So make it a habit to pause your work for a few minutes to stretch, take a walk, drink a coffee, or spend some time outside.
- Psychological withdrawal from work. Do you find yourself carrying work stress or frustration with you? Or do you find it difficult to stop thinking about work to really relax? Creating a “third space” can help you switch off at the end of the day. The third space is what we do when we move between two different roles/environments – like work and home. Taking time to rest, relax, and recharge during this transition can help you achieve a better work-life balance.
- You can also include a “third place” in your work day. If you’re wrapping up a meeting and moving on to another task, take a moment to pause and reset your thinking. Or if you’re making client calls, create a third space between each call to rest and set your intentions for the next call.
- Change your environment. One area that can have a big positive impact on your well-being is making small changes to your environment. Consider implementing some physical cues that remind your brain that you’re not at work, such as turning off certain lights and/or changing into work clothes at the end of the day. Get out in nature – There is a lot of research done on the effects of natural surroundings not only on reducing stress, but also on the ability to regain focus.
- Sleep is vital. Sleep is just as important to your health as good nutrition and exercise. It improves your brain function, emotional well-being, physical health and daytime functioning. A good night’s sleep will better prepare you to handle the demands of running a small business, leading to better well-being.
- Maintain good sleep hygiene by establishing a consistent sleep schedule, establishing a good nighttime routine, and ensuring that your daily activities promote good sleep. Small changes like reducing screen time before bed by plugging in your phone on the other side of the bedroom, or putting a book on your bed instead of an iPad are some very simple, actionable changes that can help you get a good night’s sleep.
- If you find yourself waking up at odd hours that you can’t switch off, try creating and keeping a system that captures all of your work-related tasks in one place. When you’re done with work, take five minutes to get all work-related tasks out of your mind and onto paper. Your brain will be less likely to wake you up at night worrying about these tasks if you’re not conscious and in a system you trust to act the next day.
- Perhaps the most important: You can’t charge yourself out of a bad situation. If the demands of your job are burning you out, or stress at home is affecting your well-being, the above strategies may make you feel better temporarily – but they’re not going to solve the underlying problem. Clearly identifying the demands of your business and taking steps to bring them to a business advisor, mentor, or advisor will help you address these issues and get you on the road to recovery. Look at what programs are available locally – for example in Australia, programs like beyond the blue Offer knowledge and resources to support mental health and well-being.
By implementing these strategies, we hope you’ll be better able to recharge your batteries and improve your overall well-being.