Running your own business means you’ve a multitude of priorities to contend with day in day out. But when you’re in the thick of it moving your business forward, it can be easy to lose sight of your mental health and wellbeing.
Stepping back, if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer backache or a sprained ankle you’ll certainly be aware of it and, hopefully, you’ll be able to do something about alleviating the pain and/or you’ll be able to make adjustments to your working pattern to account for it. But when it comes to stress, it can be difficult to spot the signs and symptoms as they can vary widely, as follows:
• Psychological symptoms – confusion, indecision, agitation, low mood or mood swings, reduced self-confidence or lack of motivation
• Physical symptoms – feeling lethargic, changes in weight or appetite, or perhaps unexplained aches and pains
• Behavioural/social signs – feeling nervous, neglecting your appearance, loss of interest in social activities
Taking time to pause from the busyness around you can be the start of a journey to explore your feelings and moving beyond them. Be honest with yourself and if troubled confide in someone you trust and with whom you can open up. This can be a friend, family member, perhaps your GP or a health professional – and there’s a wealth of resource available from mental health charities such as Mind, too.
In the meantime, there are a number of steps we can take to help relieve stress and, hopefully, help to prevent it from escalating into a more persistent mental health matter.
• Check-in with yourself: Keep on the lookout: stress can build up gradually for some people, wearing them down slowly so that it may be difficult to identify tell-tale signs. ‘Check in’ with yourself to reflect on how you’re feeling. Practicing mindfulness – taking a quiet moment to observe your breath and allowing your thoughts and feelings to pass without judgement – can bring profound benefits to those who regularly commit time to it.
• Work wisely: taking time-outs during work to relax and regroup helps to relieve built-up stress, replenish your resilience and recover your energy. You’ll undoubtedly work more efficiently and smarter in the long run if you allow for a little down time every so often.
• Food for thought: diet and exercise can have a significant effect on mood and psychological wellbeing. Get a breather and be kind to yourself by maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Be curious about what you consume and how it affects you – you might find that cutting the afternoon caffeine leads to enhanced energy levels, for example.
…and so to bed: finally, don’t overlook the simple beauty and importance of a good night’s sleep in keeping you refreshed so that you can be at your best – for you and for your business.
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