This week it has been Mental Health Awareness week. Looking after our own mental health & wellbeing has never been more important. As a population our wellbeing is struggling and the statistics for those suffering from stress, depression, anxiety & negative feelings are going up.
As business owners, we owe it to our customers, staff and enterprise to prioritise our mental health. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So what small, tiny habits can you cultivate to improve your wellbeing? What ways can you make changes in your life for the better?
Here are 10 ideas the might improve your mental health & wellbeing:
- Cultivate consistent sleeping patterns.
- Research shows that not only do we need a regular 6-7 hours sleep at a minimum but we also need to sleep & wake at the same time every day. This consistency helps regulate our own sleep rhythms that support mood, hormone balance, mental alertness & physical repair. Expecting your body, mind and spirit to cope with erratic sleeping is not realistic. Build routine into bedtime and waking. All the well known tips work – gentle stretching before bed; avoiding screens in the bedroom; avoiding caffeine or too much alcohol. Make sure your bedroom is cool. Whatever works for you – stick to it every day for a month and notice the difference.
- You are what you eat.
- As the old saying goes….but it’s true. Who hasn’t got busy or fed up and started to eat rubbish or drink a little too much? We’ve all done that. But taking time to eat regular meals (without a screen!) and simply taking time out of your day to provide yourself with better nutrition will make a huge difference. This isn’t about perfection but taking steps in the right direction. Head to your favourite recipe website & plan a week of quick lunches & see how your afternoon mood is better.
- Drink gallons….of water
- Hydration is literally the oil in your body. Without lubricating all the cells, systems and functions of your body, you will quickly feel sluggish, foggy and flat. Buy a re-usable bottle with markers to avoid slipping up when distracted.
- Step outside every day
- Studies have shown that improving your levels of vitamin D has an astonishing effect on all sorts of systems, organs and mood. Even on grey days, outside light will still provide some vitamin D and keep your system topped up. Studies have also shown that outside light (compared to sitting in a bright room) has a powerful effect on our circadian rhythm which helps us function well and sleep better.
- Stop for nature
- You don’t have to live in the countryside to experience nature as a soothing and inspiring experience. Simply standing in green space, watching bees, looking up into a tree canopy has huge benefits on our mood but also our creativity. In business, it is so easy to rush about and drop this kind of activity when in fact, you could argue, it is an essential activity in your business.
- Stop being busy
- Before you shout at the screen, please read on. We all have hugely full lives with lots of responsibilities but we all have the same 24 hrs a day. If we focus more on productivity instead of just activity, we will notice our anxiety reducing and our minds feel calmer. At the start of every day, list what is absolutely necessary to complete (no more than 2 items) and then rank the remaining tasks a little lower. Tackle each task with total focus – no phones, other screens, phone calls etc. Busy is headless chicken. Productivity is hard work and proper rest.
- Book time off
- How many of us who run our own businesses never booking time off unless we’re physically going on holiday? Who among us sneaks the laptop on throughout the weekend? Our bodies and minds aren’t designed to work 24/7. Like a car, a baby, a much loved pet, we’re designed to rest, switch off, sleep, play and laugh. It shouldn’t matter that there is no holiday booked. Simply block out sections of your year for a break. Switch off your devices and your out of office on. Your business and wellbeing will only benefit.
- Be vulnerable
- This is a toughie and one that I’ve been particularly rubbish at. This isn’t about over sharing all your grotty corners but it’s about finding community and connections where you can truly be open about your failures, frailties, worries and mistakes. None of us have all the answers (I mean NONE) and sharing with an open heart will bring so many rewards for your wellbeing.
- Give yourself a pat on the back
- Did you know that even starting a business of your own already puts you into an exclusive 10% of the population. Whatever your successes or failures, you are already innovative enough, creative enough and brave enough to go it alone. You deserve a pat on the back for that. If you’re talking negatively to yourself and being hard on yourself, then ask your brain (it’s the annoying talker in your head) to quieten down and remind it that you’ve come a long way. Perhaps note down all the things you do well and that people love you for. It doesn’t matter if it’s just that you’re a great baker or hugger. It matters not if you can’t blog or make more profit. You are and do good stuff so say well done.
- Get professional help sooner rather than later
- Everyone hits a brick wall in their lives at some point. It is simply part of life and seeking professional help is as important as getting a certified plumber to mend your gas pipes. From crisis support (search online today and look after yourself like you would look after someone you loved dearly) to personal therapy or business coaching – there are 100s of people out there who are ready to support you. There’s also a lot of free support out there so don’t avoid searching in fear about money.
Wishing you much self care and attention. Remember that you’re not alone int he Member’s Club. Reach out to me or your fellow members in the Facebook Group or Slack. We can all share our top tips and be kinder to ourselves together.