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Mental Health Awareness: A Practical Guide for New (and existing) Business Owners

A practical guide for new founders to raise mental health awareness, as well as look after their own

By:

Lee Morris

A stressed woman, cradling her head, while working on her laptop

Starting a new company can be stressful. That won’t be a surprise to anyone. A mix of great excitement interspersed with worry around gaining new clients, having enough cash flow and fear of failure, can have a huge impact on mental wellbeing.

According to a recent report created by Startup Snapshot, ‘72% of founders report that entrepreneurship has impacted their mental health with 81% reporting that they do not openly share their stress, fears, and challenges.’

Stress can have a huge impact on your mental health, actually your health in general. Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.

Source: startup-snapshot.com

We know that stress is a normal part of life, and actually ‘Eustress’ (the good stress), can have a really positive impact as it feels exciting, helps keep motivated and can improve performance. It’s when you have too much of the bad stress (distress) that can lead to mental and physical health problems.

Eustress, a term coined by psychologist Hans Selye, is a type of stress that is often characterized as "positive stress" or "beneficial stress." It's the kind of stress that can actually be good for you because it motivates and energizes you, helping you to perform at your best. Eustress is typically short-term and is associated with situations or challenges that you find exciting, stimulating, or invigorating.

So, what can you do to help manage that stress and focus on your mental health? Fortunately, there are a whole range of tips and techniques:

  • Be aware of your stress triggers. Write them down. Self-awareness is essential to being able to manage the stress.
  • Focus on the areas that you can control. As a company owner, there will be lots of things causing concern. Think about how you can control or influence those things, and what are just ‘givens’.
  • Use any quieter times to look after your physical and mental well-being. Take a walk, focus on a hobby, spend time with family or friends, anything that makes you happy and can de-stress. 
  • Use your Support Network. Make sure you have a few people who you can talk to when you are feeling stressed. It is best to have a variety of people from someone who might put a metaphoric arm around you to someone else who might give you a much-needed ‘reality check’. Make sure that this support is mutual and not just one-sided.
  • When you are feeling down, stressed, or anxious, reflect on WHY you made the decision to set up your business.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Becoming a successful business owner can take time. It is rare that this happens overnight. Set yourself smaller goals or milestones. 
  • Focus on your spiritual well-being. This could include mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques, yoga, and anything else that can calm your body and mind, and help you live in the present moment rather than focusing too much on the past or future.
  • Take a break. Step away. Even if it is just for a few minutes. It might be that you need to sleep on something. 
  • Focus on your physical well-being. I recently heard a great acronym to remember the different areas of this as, ‘looking after your SHED’. SHED stands for Sleep, Hydration, Exercise and Diet.
  • Stay on top of your administration. Sometimes this can be low on your list of priorities as a business owner but actually, if you feel up to date and well prepared, the impact on your stress levels can be positive.

If you do feel that your physical or mental health is particularly poor, there are lots of areas of support out there both locally and nationally. Don’t be afraid to contact your GP to talk through any worries. If you feel in crisis, the Samaritans offer a 24/7 phoneline – 116 123 (in the UK) or SHOUT provides a text service which is available by texting SHOUT to 85258.

Source: startup-snapshot.com

Lee Morris has been a business owner for 9 months, setting up a mental health and wellbeing training company in January 2023. 

He specialises in providing organisations with accredited and bespoke mental health training including Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health Skills for Managers, as well as keynote speaking on topics such as imposter syndrome, personal resilience and stress management.

If you’d like to get in touch, please email Lee at lee@optimise-learning.com or call him on 07779 035356. His website is www.optimise-learning.com.

About The Author

A stressed woman, cradling her head, while working on her laptop
Lee Morris
https://www.optimise-learning.com

Lee Morris, is a dedicated Mental Health Trainer, Resilience Specialist, and compelling Keynote Speaker. His mission is to empower individuals through his expertise and insights.

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